Murder suspect shot toward police. They arrested him without having to fire back.

Phillip Cabrera.
Phillip Cabrera.

Late on April 28, Nampa Police Sgt. Brian Jones arrived at the site of a disturbance call to find a home with a splintered front door, swung halfway open.

Inside was something more concerning: a man who Jones said “looked at me, smiled and pulled out a handgun, shooting several rounds.”

Jones found cover at the corner of the house and called for backup. But he didn’t return fire.

“I didn’t want to shoot, not knowing where anyone else was inside,” Jones told a Canyon County magistrate Tuesday.

Without firing once, police managed to take the man into custody and soon found the reason for the disturbance call. Inside the home was Andrew Shepard, 34, killed by other gunshots — reportedly by the man who confronted Jones, 38-year-old Phillip Cabrera.

Cabrera now faces several charges: first-degree murder, assault on a police officer, use of a deadly weapon, burglary, unlawful discharge of a weapon, injury to a child and malicious injury to property.

After testimony from Jones and others Tuesday, Magistrate John Meinhofer ruled there was enough evidence to send the case against Cabrera to district court and a full trial. He’s next scheduled for a district court arraignment July 7, and is being held without bail in the Canyon County Jail.

Man shot while holding baby

Much of the hearing reflected events as described in a police affidavit filed early on in the case.

The home in the 4100 block of Bear Valley Road belongs to Cabrera’s estranged wife. She told the judge that Cabrera broke down the home’s front door, then smashed through a bedroom door and a bathroom door before pulling out a handgun and shooting Shepard to death.

The two adults had gone into the bathroom to hide with two of the woman’s children, a 9-year-old boy and an infant girl. Shepard pushed against the door to keep Cabrera from coming in, to no avail, the wife said.

She said Cabrera yelled, “You’re cheating on me. You’re cheating on me,” before pointing his handgun at Shepard and shooting him in the stomach. He fired a second shot into Shepard’s head after Shepard slumped to the floor, she said.

Shepard had a baseball bat in his hands, but didn’t get a chance to swing it, she said. He was also holding the baby girl when the first shot was fired. The bat was found underneath Shepard’s body when police arrived. Cabrera later told police he never saw the bat.

Cabrera, who suffered minor injuries from kicking and pounding on the doors, also had an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. He did not fire that weapon during the incident, which included him firing several shots at police, prosecutors said.

Cabrera returned to the front of the house, encountering Jones. He surrendered about 10 minutes after firing the shots Jones saw, the sergeant said.

Alleged shooter’s story

Nampa Detective Mark Palfreyman interviewed Cabrera after his arrest. In court Tuesday, the detective said Cabrera denied seeing Jones before shooting outside the home. But Cabrera reportedly conceded that he knew an officer or officers were outside, and said he fired twice in their general direction.

“He tells me he expects to be in a shootout with police, like you see on TV,” Palfreyman said.

Cabrera also told the detective he considered killing himself, but later decided against it.

Cabrera told Palfreyman he got off work that day, drank a couple of beers and did a couple of lines of cocaine before driving to Nampa that night.

He parked his pickup around the corner, out of view of the residence, and walked to the trailer home. He saw Shepard’s Chevrolet Impala parked outside and slashed all four of its tires.

He then walked back to his pickup, got his handgun and a rifle and returned to the home, where he started banging on the door.

Shepard’s father, Merle Shepard, attended Tuesday’s hearing. He said outside the courtroom he was glad the case is moving forward.

Andrew Shepard grew up in Nampa and attended local schools. He enjoyed golfing, fishing and watching movies.

He is survived by his parents; two children, Alexander and Hailey; and two brothers, along with numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell