ST. PAUL, Neb (KSNB) A Broken Bow man Monday was convicted of attempted murder in connection with a New Year's Eve shootout with Howard County Sheriff's deputies.
Luke Lefever, 30, pled no contest to one count of attempted attempted murder in Howard County District Court in St. Paul.
The Nebraska State Patrol said the incident happened New Year's Eve when a Howard County deputy attempted a traffic stop near the intersection of Dannevirke Road and Page Road north of Elba. That intersection is about 12 miles northwest of St. Paul. The patrol said Lefever fired a shot from a handgun.
During an exchange of gunfire Lefever got into a deputy's vehicle and fled south on Page Road. Lefever also found a shotgun stored in the cruiser. The cruiser spun out and a second exchange of gunfire took place.
The patrol said Lefever then fled on foot. Officers from the St. Paul Police Department were also involved, but did not discharge their weapons.
Shortly before midnight New Year's Eve, the Howard County Sheriff's Office posted a message on Facebook that read, "If you live within a 4 mile radius of Hwy 11/ Dannevirke Rd we ask that you lock your doors and remain inside due to dangerous situation in your area. Please stay safe."
At that point, state troopers, deputies from the Howard, Merrick and Sherman County Sheriff’s Offices as well as St. Paul police officers arrived on scene and set up a perimeter. A State Patrol SWAT team was called in and the NSP helicopter was deployed to assist in the search. Using a state patrol light armored vehicle (LAV), the SWAT team began searching the area.
The SWAT team was able to track Lefever into a creek bed east of Page Road. Upon locating him, an NSP K9 police dog was deployed to help take him into custody. The shotgun was found at the scene.
Lefever suffered a gunshot wound to his left forearm and was showing signs of hypothermia. He was transported out of the area using the LAV and then transported to the St. Paul hospital for treatment. He was then transported by medical helicopter to St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln.
No officers were injured at any point throughout the incident.
Lefever was charged with two counts of attempted murder, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm and with being a habitual criminal. In exchange for Monday's no contest plea on the single count of attempted murder, Howard County prosecutors dropped the other three charges.
A judge ordered that Lefever be turned over to the Department of Corrections. The department will evaluate Lefever's background and previous criminal record and will prepare a report to the court for sentencing. The evaluation is due within 90 days, after which Lefever will be sentenced.
The maximum penalty for attempted murder is 50 years in prison.