Reports State Baldree Murder Random Act of Violence - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/26/05

Reports State Baldree Murder Random Act of Violence

Lubbock Sheriff's Office Lubbock Sheriff's Office

New information is released in the murder investigation of Russell Baldree, as friends react to the arrest of two suspects. It appears the August 2nd murder of Russell Baldree was a random act of violence. Police are still investigating the case, but NewsChannel 11 obtained warrant information from the Lubbock County Courthouse.

The reports are part of the investigation that helped arrest 26-year-old Michael Castro Rodriguez and 19-year-old Michael Anthony Chavez, on Tuesday. According to police reports, Chavez, Rodriguez, and another man "...were cruising when they noticed a guy on a motorcycle and wanted to rob him." The report states, "Chavez pulled out a gun from under the seat and handed it to Michael Rodriguez. Wanting to scare or rob the guy on the motorcycle." The report continues to say, "...the men shot at him, but that the guy on the motorcycle panicked and took off and they weren't sure if they hit him or not."

A few moments later, Baldree crashed his motorcycle near 50th and Indiana. Police originally thought he died as a result of the crash. But an autopsy report later revealed he died of a gunshot wound.

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Russell Baldree's Twin Brother and Friends Remember Him With Kind Words
The men suspected of murdering Russell Baldree are now behind bars, but that provides little comfort for family and friends. They say since he was killed in August, they've felt an emptiness that can't.

"There are still a lot of things we want to tie up some loose ends on, and there's more legwork to do. As we interview more people and talk to people the case could still go some other direction. But right now we are confident that we have the people responsible for Mr Baldree's death and we have a good case but we're not done until this case goes to trial," says Assistant Chief Thomas Esparza.

Both Chavez and Rodriguez are charged with murder and remain in the Lubbock County Jail, with a $300,000 bail each.

News of the arrests brought relief to friends of Russell Baldree. Not that learning his death was so random, makes it any easier. Russell Baldree was a surgical technician at Lubbock Heart Hospital. Friends there describe him as a funny, fun loving guy and a real family man, they say this news is bitter sweet.

"I was happy to hear about that but at the same time it brought back a lot of sad memories. It brings a lot of closure to it, but I hope these guys get what they deserve. I hope that this helps the family they are the ones who have really suffered through this," said friend and colleague Larry Pierce.

Pierce says things haven't been the same since Russell's death. He said Russell made people happy. "We're obviously pleased that someone has been found or that they think they found the shooters in this case. I think it's a testament to the fact that the Lubbock Police Department has been diligent in their efforts to find out who did this. It's still not going to bring Russell back and we are all still saddened that he isn't with us, so I think it's a bittersweet ending," said Dr. Burt Fowler, another friend and colleague of Baldree.

Dr Burt Fowler adds, to think people drive around with guns just to cause random acts of violence makes it hard to accept closure. "He was a good guy and a family man and it's just very sad to me that someone has to die this way."

Baldree left behind a young son. Both Rodriguez and Chavez could face capital murder charges which could result in the death penalty if found guilty.

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