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Police say evidence theft led to killings

YUMA, Ariz., July 14 -- A member of a narcotics task force calmly called 911 to report that a mentally unstable colleague had opened fire with a machine pistol after being caught burglarizing the group's evidence room, police said Friday. Yumapolice Lt. Dan Elkin and Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. Michael Crowe were killed in the July 4 shooting at offices of the Southwest Border Alliance, a multi-agency drug task force. A bloody Yuma County Sheriff's Deputy Jack Hudson, 37, was arrested outside the offices and held in lieu of $15.5 million bail. In the 40-second 911 tape released Friday, Elkins can be heard calmly reporting that a man with a gun had fired shots at the task force offices. No gunfire could be heard on the tape. 'The only description of the suspect provided by Lt. Elkins was 'an agent who's gone 918,' said a statement released by Yuma police. 'The term '918' is a Yuma Police Department radio code used to describe a mentally unstable person.' Police said they did not know whether Elkins was already mortally wounded when he made the brief call and then hung up abruptly. Published reports say Elkins, Crowe and evidence custodian Jim Ehrhart had gone to the task force office after seeing Hudson on a surveillance camera. Police said only that the three discovered that 'two safes had been forcibly opened and there were obvious signs of ransacking of offices.' Elkins, Crowe and Ehrhart, who were not armed, tried to leave the building, '...but they were confronted by Hudson, who was armed with a Cobray 9mm automatic weapon,' the statement said.

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'Hudson almost immediately opened fire on Elkins and Crowe. He then turned to fire at Erhart, however the gun jammed, allowing Ehrart to escape through a north door. Crowe was pursued by Hudson and shot in the parking lot. Elkins placed a 911 call reporting the incident, but was unable to exit the building and was shot by Hudson,' the statement said. Ehrhart made it out of the fenced complex and got help. Hudson, his hands and clothes spattered with blood, tried to hide, but was arrested at the compound without further violence. Three guns, including the Cobray 9mm automatic, and a set of evidence room keys were found in Hudson's task force car. An additonal 40 guns were found at his home and 25 of the guns were identified as having been stolen from the task force evidence room, the statement said. The task force consisted of 22 members from various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and investigates drug activities in the Yuma area, where Arizona, California and Mexico meet. Other items seized from Hudson included a night vision system, radios, a spotting scope, narcotics and dangerous drugs, drug paraphernalia, binoculars, phones, a U.S. Customs badge, cassette tapes, pagers, a photo lineup, keys, tools, a tape recorder, watch and $2,700 in cash. 'The case remains open and the investigation is continuing,' the statement said. Hudson is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Yuma County Superior Court on a grand jury indictment charging him with four counts of murder in the deaths of the two officers. Arizona law permits charging additional counts of first-degree murder if the killing occurred during another crime. Hudson was also indicted for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault on Ehrhart, first-degree burglary on the task force office and third-degree burglary of the annex between June 15 and July 4.

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