Northfield GC gets its man: Members subdue fugitive

  • Chris Zukowski, left, and Cody Snow stand outside the Northfield Golf Club where they apprehended escaped fugitive Christopher Shepherd on Friday. FOR THE RECORDER/CHIP AINSWORTH

Published: 8/12/2019 9:30:51 PM

They didn’t score a mulligan, but they captured a hooligan.

Friday was a routine day on the links for Chris Zukowski and Cody Snow, whose sister Shelby manages the Northfield Golf Club and is engaged to marry their mutual friend Garrett Hasanbasic.

While they prepared to tee off Northfield’s par 5 fifth hole, a State Police vehicle pulled up and a trooper approached them. “I don’t want to alarm you guys, but we’re searching for an escaped prisoner,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Northfield police had arrested 23-year-old Christopher Sheperd, who had fled the police station and was on the lam. Police canvassed the town knocking on doors and looking in residents’ backyards, tool sheds and garages. A helicopter flew overhead, and a SWAT team was called in to assist in the search.

Sheperd had tussled with the arresting officer and was considered dangerous. Consequently, police chief Robert Leighton asked fire chief Skip Dunnell to issue an alert. Shortly after 6 p.m., residents’ phones rang. “The Northfield Police Department just had a prisoner escape their custody from the police station in the downtown Main Street area,” said Dunnell. “His name is Christopher Sheperd. He is 23 years old. He is six-feet tall, approximately 185 pounds, has dark hair, is wearing a black T-shirt and has tattoos on his right arm. He is wearing handcuffs.”

Dunnell warned: “If you see this subject, do not approach. Call 9-1-1.”

Back at the golf course, police ordered everyone inside. “They all grabbed golf carts and were driving around and then a helicopter flew over us,” said Zukowski.

After the police left, the 28-year-old Zukowski and 29-year-old Snow finished their round and retired to the clubhouse for a beer. When they picked up to leave, it was almost dark and the clubhouse was nearly empty. “We had just stepped outside when he came around the corner,” said Snow. “He was holding his hands around to his side. He didn’t want us to see the handcuffs. 

Sheperd tried to act normal. “How’s it going?” he asked.

“We’re doing OK,” said Zukowski, who was spying the handcuffs, “but it looks like you’re not doing so good.”

“There’s nothing going on guys,” said Sheperd, who by now knew the gig was up.

Zukowski was all-Western Mass. in baseball and soccer at Franklin County Technical School, and Snow was a 1,000-point scorer at Pioneer who later played at Keene State. They are both formidable, and they followed Sheperd into the parking lot and braced him against a vehicle.

“The guy had about had it,” said Snow. “He wasn’t going anywhere.”

Zukowski called 9-1-1 and spoke to Shelburne Control Dispatch Center. “It was 8:57 p.m.,” said Zukowski, checking his phone. “They asked what’s the nature of your call and our location. I told them we had the guy.”

“Are you sure it’s him?” they asked.

“He has handcuffs on,” replied Zukowski. “I don’t see a lot of people around Northfield wearing handcuffs.”

According to Snow, “about nine” police cars sped around the corner and into the gravel parking lot. “It didn’t take them long,” he chuckled. 

The first cop to speak to Sheperd was the Northfield police officer who had made the arrest. “He just looked at (Sheperd) and shook his head,” said Zukowski.

Meanwhile, Chief Leighton thanked both men and shook hands.

Not long afterward, Northfield townsfolk got the call from Skip Dunnell that Sheperd had been captured. Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief and returned to watching the Red Sox game. All’s well that ends well, thanks to the actions of Chris Zukowski and Cody Snow.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.


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