When Christopher Chase was found dead slumped over the wheel of a stolen police cruiser in a gas station parking lot on Saturday, police pulled his body out of the car, removed his body armor and lifted his camouflage shirt to reveal a prominent tattoo:
Chase, 35, did not kill any police officers Saturday, despite his best efforts -- a dramatic police chase, the use of an assault rifle and numerous shots sprayed at his law enforcement pursuers. He did, however strike four of them, including three Albuquerque police officers and one Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy, Robin Hopkins, who is in intensive care and facing a long recovery.
Chase fired at officers at least four separate times during the police chase, including along Broadway at Coal, Central and Martin Luther King Jr. and at Montano and Schulte.
Police released little informa- tion about Chase during a Sunday news conference, except to say that he had a criminal record and appears to have put much effort into planning the shooting spree. They did not know if he was from New Mexico, or if he had family here.
But police did describe what they encountered when they searched his home in the 800 block of Walter SE later Saturday, saying they encountered fake booby traps.
There, investigators delicately took down fishing line, removed fake artillery shells with protruding wires and pried boards off the windows -- all of which police said gave the appearance of traps.
"Once they got inside, it was determined that the booby traps were not real," Albuquerque Police Department Chief Allen Banks said at the news conference as he stood alongside Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston, Mayor Richard Berry and about a dozen deputies and officers who lined the wall of the briefing room.
A foot-wide hole could be seen just above the door handle in the multi-apartment home Sunday morning.
Nancy Cano, who lives in an apartment in the same house as Chase, said Chase was a veteran on disability who often came out with his two dogs, a pit bull and small mix, and made small talk.
On Saturday, Chase walked out of his apartment around 10 a.m. wearing a "huge jacket," she said, and politely greeted her. That was odd, she said, because he normally sleeps in and never wears a jacket.
"He said good morning, and I went inside," Cano said. "He left walking. He had a huge jacket, kind of camouflage jacket, and he left walking, and that's the last time I saw him."
Police showed Cano a photo of Chase, she said, and she was shocked it was him, because "he was the nicest guy ever, really genuine." She said a friend of Chase recently came to pick up the dogs, named Beavis and Meatwad.
Cano said she never heard Chase talk about owning a gun.
Chase's criminal history does not include any violence charges, but online state court records show a 2005 charge for fraud of more than $2,000, for which Chase was given 18 months probation in a plea deal.
At the news conference Sunday, police called Chase a "coward" and his acts "senseless," but said they have no idea what made him do what he did.
"We still don't have motive, and we still don't have reason," Banks said.
Copyright 2013 - Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service