By Eric Harrold
HOT SPRINGS – Casey W. Shaffer, who escaped from Fall River County Sheriff’s deputies back on June 11, was taken into custody on August 3 by Fall River Sheriff’s Office personnel following a lengthy vehicle pursuit and foot chase that ended when Shaffer emerged from a river bed near Provo.
Shaffer was taken to the Fall River County Jail and charged with six felony counts including first degree escape, two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer aggravated eluding, receiving or possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest, and reckless driving along with three misdemeanor charges. His initial appearance is scheduled for August 17 in the 7th Judicial Circuit Court in Hot Springs. His original charge back in June was for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.
The sequence of events that led to Shaffer’s capture began the previous day when Fall River Deputy Isnalawica Belt was advised by dispatch that Shaffer was reportedly driving a white Ford pickup truck with Wyoming plates, spray-painted in a camouflage pattern. The plates on the vehicle registered as “stolen” in the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) out of Rapid City, and additional information provided indicated that Shaffer was possibly armed with a shotgun.
Belt received a call at 12:49 a.m. from Fall River Deputy Charles Dobbs who contacted him to say that someone reported seeing Shaffer in Edgemont. Around 20 minutes later, Belt observed a parked vehicle near the intersection of Highway 471 and Fiddle Creek Road. The vehicle began to move slowly to the south with its lights extinguished. When Belt began moving from his parked position toward Highway 471, the truck accelerated at a high rate of speed with Belt engaging in pursuit. Belt reported that the vehicle’s description matched that of the one Shaffer was driving according to the NCIC report. Belt terminated pursuit after he was notified by dispatch that he had traveled into Nebraska.
Shortly after 1:30 p.m., Belt was accompanied on patrol by Deputy Lyle Norton who received a call advising of a report of Shaffer being at an Edgemont address. Upon arrival, an unidentified female subject informed Belt and Norton that Shaffer was inside the residence. The female subject indicated that Shaffer no long possessed the shotgun because she had her son come and pick it up. After her refusal to obey repeated commands from the officers, Belt handcuffed the female subject and placed her in Norton’s patrol unit.
Upon entering the residence, Belt and Norton found Shaffer lying on a bed asleep. Belt commanded Shaffer to get up and that he was being placed under arrest. Norton attempted to handcuff Shaffer who became combative and struck both officers. Belt deployed his taser on Shaffer, but stated in his report that it had no effect.
After fleeing from the residence, Shaffer headed east along Lawrence Avenue and was pursued by Belt on foot. Shaffer entered a garage outbuilding according to Belt. Shaffer exited the garage in a truck with Belt and Norton in hot pursuit as the chase left Cottonwood and proceeded down Lookout Road toward Custer Landfill. Shaffer turned onto Indian Canyon Road and headed west, then turned south onto Highway 471. As he headed down Highway 471, Shaffer suddenly applied his brakes after the deputies closed in on him, which Belt interpreted as an attempt to wreck and disable the patrol vehicle in an attempt to elude capture. According to Belt, Shaffer did this multiple times while driving on the wrong side of the road as he proceeded down Highway 471. Suddenly Shaffer’s vehicle veered off the road and crashed through a fence and continued through a pasture in a westerly direction. A couple of minutes later, Shaffer was driving on the edge of a steep embankment when his vehicle plunged to the bottom, where he proceeded to drive in circles at the bottom of the ravine before crashing his truck into the Coal Creek river bed. The deputies elected to pursue him in Norton’s patrol vehicle until the terrain became impassable at which point Belt continued the pursuit on foot. At one point Belt drew his handgun and pointed it at Shaffer after he closed within approximately 30 yards of him as he observed Shaffer to be holding a shiny object that he made a pointing gesture toward Belt with. Belt ducked and aimed his weapon at Shaffer’s chest but did not fire. Belt commanded Shaffer to stop to which Shaffer responded by yelling expletives as well as threatening to kill Belt.
Shaffer continued his effort to escape, cresting the riverbank and continuing in westward direction. Belt continued to pursue Shaffer from a distance and heard radio traffic that indicated law enforcement personnel were going to attempt to intercept Shaffer further to the west. A few minutes later, Belt observed Fall River Sheriff Robert Evans and Deputy Vincent Logue make contact with Shaffer and take him into custody.