Dr. Pepper cost one Valley man his Mercedes; stolen vehicle led police on pursuit, shoot-out

Posted at 5:25 PM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 22:19:39-04

A Dr. Pepper cost one Valley man his car. He stepped inside a gas station to buy the soda and somebody stole his car and ended up in a chase and shooting with police.

It was late at night last week when Ralph Amsden pulled up to get gas at a Circle K at Dobson and Warner roads. Although he didn’t know it yet, he was about to learn a valuable lesson about leaving the keys in a car.

“When I see that I'm the only person at the gas station I go inside to get a Coke,” said Amsden.

Amsden said he saw a pick-up truck slowly cruising through the gas station moments before, but thought they had gone in for good. Apparently, the pick-up rolled back around after Amsden went inside.

When he came back out with his Dr. Pepper...“The gas pump is on the ground -- and my car is gone,” he said. 

He called police and decided he might never see his Mercedes again. Then, a week later he got a call from his insurance company that the car had been found by the Mesa Police Department.

“So I call Mesa police and the woman says, ‘You might see this one on the news,”’ said Amsden, recounting his conversation.

It turns out that a Mesa police officer spotted the stolen car during a routine license plate scan at a budget motel. Mesa police said a suspect by the name of Timothy Childres was driving and tried to get away.  According to police, he hit a car and tried to run over two police officers who were on foot.  The officers opened fire.

“We're talking about Grand Theft Auto, helicopters,” said Amsden, referring to the popular video game that features over the top police chases. “This isn't an everyday thing for me.”
The short police chase ended at a mobile home park in west Mesa. Police arrested Childress and said he tested positive for meth and possibly for heroin. Police also said they found two guns in the car, including an assault rifle.

“The thing that was most disturbing — there was no hesitation on their part and I have a baby seat in the back,” said Amsden. “My 9-month-old daughter could have been in there and they wouldn't even hesitate to take off.”

Amsden’s Mercedes, which he and his wife had just finished paying off, now has a couple of bullet holes in the side and he’s not sure whether he’ll get it back at all. 

But he’s not worried so much about the car.  He’s glad the officers weren’t hurt and he’s happy the suspect is in jail. 

“As long as i'm good, my kids are good and my wife is goood - then I’m good and I'm able to laugh about it.”