For nearly a month, Keith Lamar Shepherd lived quietly in a motel, always polite, always paying his bill on time.
Now, the notorious Utah Prison double escapee is under heavy guard after a shootout with a police officer left him and the man he took hostage wounded.Four months of freedom and an alleged six-state crime spree are over. The investigations into where Shepherd has been and what he may have done are just beginning.
Recovering from a gunshot wound to the face at an Albuquerque hospital, Shepherd is being guarded around the clock by two armed police officers. Even when doctors operated on him Friday, an officer scrubbed and stood in the operating room as a security precaution, officials said.
The hostage shot in the crossfire was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon. He and his family declined to talk about the shooting.
Utah Corrections investigators are in Albuquerque, where they delivered federal indictments against Shepherd. The charges include two Utah bank robberies and Shepherd's two escapes from Utah prisons. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City issued the warrants while Shepherd, 37, was at large, said Corrections spokesman Jack Ford.
"We would have liked to have caught him the day he escaped," said Ford. "He's a one-man crime spree when he's out there."
Theresa Sargent, an investigator with the Utah Department of Corrections, interviewed Shepherd Saturday. She said he was cooperative with authorities.
The FBI is handling the case and it's unclear where Shepherd will be incarcerated once he recovers.
Though police officials believe he was involved in a multistate crime spree, Shepherd was a "model guest" at the motel where he has been living since Feb. 12, the manager said.
"He paid for the room every week good as gold," said Dona Stevens, who manages a Motel 6 on Albuquerque's east side with her husband. "It was always `yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am.' I was flabbergasted when police came."
For three hours, Albuquerque police officers collected evidence from the room Shepherd and a 30-year-old man were sharing. Nearly every item in the room was collected as evidence because officers don't know what the six states seeking Shepherd will need for their investigations, said Albuquerque Police Sgt. Francisco Nogales. Detailed maps of the area were also collected from Shepherd's room, Nogales said.
The roommate said he was working with horses nearby, Frank Stevens said. The couple assumed Shepherd, who went by a different name, was working nights. The two never bothered other guests or requested wake-up calls or other motel services. Except for a new Sony radio, the Stevenses didn't notice anything special being taken into the room.
Less than ten miles from the motel is the Norwest Bank where the shootout occurred. Saturday, crews were inside the bank, painting and replacing walls and a glass door hit by bullets. Workers said the damage was not extensive.
Police allege an armed Shepherd was pulling on a ski mask inside the bank Friday morning when Albuquerque police officer Timothy Chavez, who was working as a bank security guard, spotted him. Dressed in full police uniform, the two-year patrol officer drew his 9mm service weapon and ordered Shepherd to drop the pistol.
Shepherd then grabbed the man behind him in line and held a gun to his head, said FBI special agent Doug Beldon.
Shooting commenced and the hostage, Marcos Wade, 21, was struck once in the back in the cross fire, said FBI assistant special agent in charge Ron Dick. A bullet struck Shepherd and lodged between his nose and cheek. Neither Chavez nor any of the other 15 to 20 people in the bank were injured.
The attempted robbery is believed to be the third Albuquerque Norwest Bank branch hit by Shepherd in the past month. Shepherd was in satisfactory condition Saturday evening at the University of New Mexico Hospital.
This bank branch has seen violence before. In 1993, a bank robber was killed by a police sharpshooter after taking a woman hostage. Norwest policy is not to have armed guards at banks, company spokeswoman Doris Rhodes said. However, the branch was robbed in September, October and December, which led officials to hire guards.
The added security worked well until Shepherd arrived.
"We sure wish (Utah) would have held on to this guy," Rhodes said.
It's not that Utah didn't try. But Shepherd escaped from a medium-security facility in 1992. Caught a few months later, Shepherd was placed in the Gunnison Correctional Facility. He escaped in November by hiding in a milk truck. Since then, he's been suspected in the two other Albuquerque bank robberies, bank robberies in Colorado and Arizona, the robbery of a Wyoming store, a heist at a Nevada truck stop and the rape of a Cheyenne, Wyo., woman during a robbery at a Baskins-Robbins ice cream shop.
The shootout surprised security guard E.G. Lozano, who works at another Albuquerque Norwest branch. But the Texas native was greeting customers and opening doors just like always on Saturday. He even stepped outside to enjoy a little sun.
"If it scares me, I don't belong in this kind of job," he said.
There have been nine bank robberies this year in Albuquerque.
Chavez has been placed on a three-day paid administrative leave. The patrol officer declined to be interviewed, although Nogales said he was "pretty shaken up" initially.
Having an off-duty officer in the bank was part of a 10-year community safety project. The Chiefs Overtime Program allows businesses to request officers to work security and then reimburses the city for their pay.
A standard investigation has begun on whether Chavez, who began working as a public safety aide during college and is the son of a retired Albuquerque police officer, acted appropriately. Police spokesman Tony Herrera told the Deseret News that Chavez is a hero.
"He was confronted by an armed assailant and took the action he had to, to save his life and the lives of others," Herrera said, adding the situation is a cop's nightmare because there is no immediate backup and so many lives are at stake. "Thank God, Officer Chavez got to go home."