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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Shootout at Wastella - July 11, 2003



Pre-dawn police photo of the shootout scene near CR 169 just this side of Wastella.
Published on occasion of the shootout's tenth anniversary.

The word shootout brings to mind the old west—legendary figures like Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, or Jesse James—and places like Tombstone, Dodge City, or Deadwood.  It’s not a word normally associated with modern times and generally quiet and peaceful places like the farm country around Roscoe in Nolan County, Texas. 
 

But in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, July 11, 2003, a classic wild west shootout played out next to US Highway 84 just east of the tiny community of Wastella as two men blazed away at one another at close range until one went down, mortally wounded, while the other, also hit multiple times, fell to the ground and lay there immobile until help arrived.

Officer Felix Pantoja in 2003.
Seriously wounded was Roscoe police officer, Felix Pantoja, 37, who would survive and go on to recover and return to duty.  Slain by shots to the head that blew out the back of his skull was Phillip Kellogg, a fugitive on the run from Georgia with his woman, Dana Livingston.  Those final shots brought to an end a crime spree of break-ins, robberies, and holdups that began six weeks earlier and spanned nine states.  The outlaw couple had vowed to live and die like Bonnie and Clyde, but in the end, the woman chose to live instead and surrendered. 

According to testimony Livingston gave later, the story began in Georgia a half-year earlier when she met Phillip Kellogg at a parole support-group meeting that both were required to attend.  He was 21, tall and skinny (6’0” and 145 lbs.) with short reddish brown hair, mustache and goatee.  She was 29, 5’5” and heavy set with blue eyes and light brown hair.  He was on parole from a Georgia penitentiary for robbery, and she was out after serving time in South Dakota and Florida for hot check offences.  The two started seeing one another regularly, and after a couple of months moved into an apartment together in McDonough, just south of Atlanta.


Phillip Kellogg from a mug shot taken two years earlier and Dana Livingston.
Life wasn’t easy for them.  Money was always an issue, and there were ongoing legal problems, especially after Kellogg was arrested in Florida for driving with a suspended license.  As time went on and frustrations mounted, they talked more and more about returning to a life of crime, and finally made up their minds to “just do it.”

They started close to home, committing a number of “smash and grab” break-ins in communities around Atlanta, preferring small towns with only one or two cops, which made escape and avoiding detection much easier.  Working late at night from her black 2003 Nissan Sentra, she watched out and did the driving while he did the breaking in, hitting closed businesses like auto parts stores, dry cleaners, and hair salons.  During the break-ins, both wore masks made from cut-up black t-shirts, and he wore gloves to keep from leaving fingerprints.  They also carried fake ID’s in the names of Dylan M. and Hailey M. Cooper, Michigan driver’s licenses purchased in the Five-Points district of Atlanta for $80 each.  

From the suburbs of Atlanta, they worked their way down I-75 to Macon, hitting small towns such as High Falls and Griffin along the way.  During this time, both received phone calls from their mothers begging them to stop and go back home, but they ignored them. 

After Kellogg forgot a screwdriver inside a store near Hampton, Georgia, the couple started running to keep from getting caught and drove north to Tennessee.*  There, according to Livingston, she and Kellogg got married, ostensibly on the weekend of June 13, or “maybe the 16th.”  She was as uncertain about the place as the date, saying that she didn’t “really know what city or county we got married in, maybe close to Gatlinburg.  I just don’t remember.”  As Deputy Mark Taylor remarked in his report of the interview, these remarks struck him as odd for “someone so in love with her husband and just recently married.”

* Livingston’s second version of events contradicted the initial one she gave to the police immediately after the shootout when she said the reason for their going to Tennessee was just to get married.  Her first statement contained denials of many holdups and break-ins that she confessed to in the second interview after being confronted with evidence.  After breaking down and crying, she said she was sorry for initially lying and wished to come clean.
 

In any case, the pair left Tennessee and drove through Kentucky to Indiana, where they stayed for a few days with Kellogg’s uncle Jerry.  They’d planned to continue their break-ins in Indiana but never managed to do so because, according to Livingston, they were always too stoned from smoking dope with Kellogg’s uncle.  

They left Indiana behind and drove into Illinois, where they resumed their burglaries around Rock Island in little towns along I-74.  They then continued on into Iowa doing the same thing, hitting communities off I-80 before reaching Council Bluffs, Nebraska, where Kellogg lost almost all their ill-gotten gains gambling in a casino.

Shortly thereafter, around June 23, they committed their first armed robbery, using a Hi-Point 9mm pistol Kellogg bought in Indiana.  After burglarizing some places around Gretna, Nebraska, where they were staying at a KOA campground, they held up a convenience store near the Courtesy Court Motel in Grand Island.  Then they hightailed it down Highway 128 into Kansas, travelling Highway 36 to Highway 81.  They spent the night at a motel in the small town of Belleville and the next day, June 30, drove on into Salina, Kansas, where they held up a Kwik Shop convenience store at a gas station. 

Continuing south to the suburbs of Oklahoma City, they burglarized businesses both there and in Edmond before proceeding on south into Texas and Dallas. 

On July 2, they drove to the small town of Mineola in east Texas, where they hit several places, among them the Southern Maid Donut Shop owned by the uncle of Livingston’s ex-husband.  They also committed an armed robbery there and then another one at the E-Z Mart at a  a RaceTrac service station in Grand Saline. While running away from the store, Kellogg lost the clip to his pistol.

They went on to Wills Point, where they held up another convenience store.  At this one, Kellogg forced the clerk to come out of hiding in the cooler and open the cash register.  They then drove to Dallas and stayed for a few days in a motel on Harry Hines Boulevard.  While there, they bought a white 1995 Chevy Beretta with Texas plates and then moved on, this time headed west on I-20 toward Abilene, with Kellogg driving one car and Livingston the other.

They got as far as Clyde, where they stayed at the Derrick Motel for the night.  The next morning, they took a couple of the motel’s pillows, but Kellogg forgot his 9mm pistol, which he’d put under the bed the night before.  They were back on the road before he realized what he’d done, so they turned around and went back to the motel.  However, they were unable to find the pistol and, when they inquired about it, learned that the owner had already turned it over to the local police.


Century Lodge, South 1st St., Abilene, Texas.
They drove on to Abilene and got a room at the Century Lodge on South 1st Street.  Then they went to a convenience store to buy some things and, while there, asked where they could find a pawn shop that sold pistols.  One of the customers heard them and asked whether they wanted to buy or sell a pistol and, when they said they were looking to buy one, he told them he had one he’d sell them.  They followed him to his house nearby and for $450 bought a black Llama Minimax .45 semi-automatic with a leather holster and three clips, one loaded with six shells, one with seven, and the other empty.

The same day they met a man who was staying next to them at the Century Lodge.  They were in room 127 and he was in 128.  He told them he was an unemployed oilfield worker named J. D., married but separated.  This turned out to be James David Doolan, a crack-smoking ex-convict from Abilene, 41 years old, 5’11” and 200 pounds, who had short brown hair and wore a cowboy hat.


He hung out with his new friends as much as possible, enough that the couple got tired of his constant presence.  Every time they left the motel, he saw them off, and when they returned, he was there to welcome them back.  They put up with him, though, because they hadn’t talked to anyone else for a while and figured they’d be gone in a day or two, anyway.  

That evening, they went back to work, hitting a couple of dry cleaners in Abilene before driving over to Hawley and burglarizing another place there.  They also attempted to break into a gas station outside Anson but were unsuccessful. 

The following night, Doolan went to their room and asked if they’d take him to the Flying J Truck Stop in Tye, a small town on I-20 just west of Abilene.  He got money there by telling unsuspecting people he was broke and needed money for gas.  Promising to return the money by mail as soon as he got home, he’d even write down their names and addresses. 

Kellogg and Livingston agreed and took him, arriving there around 11:30pm.  The couple went on into the restaurant while Doolan did his thing outside and, shortly thereafter, came in with some money.  He sat with them and they talked for a while.  Soon, the conversation turned to the fact that they all needed money.  When the idea of burglarizing came up, Doolan suggested they try Sweetwater, about thirty miles west, which he said was “a quiet little town” that he was somewhat familiar with.  That sounded good to Kellogg, so they all left the Flying J and drove to Sweetwater in the black Nissan.

As soon as they got there, they stopped at Skinny’s Fina station just off I-20 and went to the restroom.  Then they went to work.  First, they drove north on South Lamar and hit the closed Big Tex convenience store.  Livingston stayed in the car while Kellogg and Doolan kicked in the door and went inside.  However, they got little to nothing there and drove around for a while before stopping at the Quick Pantry, again kicking the door in, taking the two cash registers, and bringing them back into the car.  While Livingston drove around, the men broke into the registers and removed the money.  Then they dumped them and spent a little time settling down, calming their nerves before hitting the next place, the Check Mart on Lamar next to the car wash, followed by B & H Engine Repair on West Broadway.  The cash register was empty there, so they both grabbed tools, one of them a chain saw, before returning to the car. 

Their next break-in was at Bahlman’s Cleaners, just off Hailey on 3rd Street.  The cash register there was bolted down, so they popped it open with a screwdriver and took the cash.  As they were leaving, a patrol officer’s alley light lit them up.  They drove around some more and then headed west on the service road just north of I-20.  Livingston initially planned to get back on the Interstate but instead wound up driving all the way to Roscoe, a distance of about seven miles. 

They entered Roscoe from the east and proceeded down East Broadway toward town.  Just by chance they happened to pass Roscoe Police Officer Felix Pantoja, who was driving up Broadway in the opposite direction.  Alarmed, they carefully watched him, and when they got to the intersection where Business US 84 turns right to get back out to the highway, they noticed Pantoja make a U-turn and start back toward them. 

Kellogg told Livingston to “hit it,” and she did, crossing the railroad tracks and then speeding out of town onto US 84 toward Wastella and Snyder.  Officer Pantoja observed their actions, turned on his overhead lights and siren, and followed in hot pursuit.


Shortly before that, Pantoja had been at the restaurant of the Holiday Inn in Sweetwater quietly drinking iced tea with Nolan County Sheriff’s Deputies Michael Johnson and Fabian Jimenez.  While listening to a hand-held police radio at around 12:35am, they heard reports of burglaries and a small black car that was seen leaving the location of one of them, heading west on the north service road off I-20 and Lamar.  At that point, Pantoja knew he’d better get back to Roscoe to watch for the car and check on the businesses there. 

He returned on I-20 in his patrol car and drove around to several locations in Roscoe, checking to make sure everything was okay.  He drove north up Main Street and then turned east when he got to Broadway.  He went only a few blocks before passing a small black car going in the opposite direction. 

Immediately suspicious, he made a U-turn, and then sped up to catch up with it.  He saw the car turn right on Business US 84 and followed, turning on his red and blue lights as he crossed the railroad tracks.  When the car accelerated onto US 84 and sped away, he turned on his siren and radioed the Nolan County Sheriff’s Office to let them know he was in pursuit. 

A high-speed chase went on for the next eight miles with both cars hitting speeds of 110-115 mph.  According to Pantoja, the black Nissan slowed down to around 60 a couple of times before resuming high speed.  At least one of these slowdowns may have occurred when Livingston wanted to pull over and give up, but Kellogg responded with, “Nope, not going back to prison,” and the chase continued.  

As they raced down the highway, Kellogg decided that they’d have a better chance trying to elude one officer than continuing on toward Snyder, where more police would likely be encountered.  He told Livingston to try to find a crossover or country road to take.  Then he saw the CR 169 crossover just ahead and told Livingston to take it.  She slowed down to about 30 mph and tried to make a U-turn back to the eastbound lane but was going too fast and lost control of her vehicle, which nose dived into a culvert, putting it out of commission.  She and Kellogg threw open the front doors, jumped out, and ran across the highway into the darkness while Doolan also threw open his door and ran away in a different direction.

Meanwhile, Officer Pantoja came to a screeching halt right behind them, jumped out of his patrol car, and began chasing Kellogg and Livingston on foot, yelling for them to stop.  Livingston ran into a ditch, lost her balance, and fell face forward into the dirt.  Kellogg was just ahead of her, and she called out to him that she’d fallen, but he continued on since Pantoja was close behind.  Livingston started to get up, but Pantoja told her to stay down, and as she could see he had his pistol drawn and didn’t want to get shot, she did as he said. 

Pantoja then approached her with the idea of handcuffing her, but as she rose to get up, all hell broke loose.  Kellogg had stopped running and started back, and at a distance of about 25 feet, he began firing his .45, hitting Pantoja in the hip with his first shot, and grazing the side of Livingston’s head with his second.  She cried out, “Phillip, what are you doing?  You hit me.” 


Pantoja returned fire and got off two shots while the woman jumped away from him, trying to get out of the line of fire.  Kellogg again shot twice, hitting Pantoja in the right thigh with the first shot and in the right forearm with the second. 

Pantoja again tried to shoot back but couldn’t pull the trigger because the wound to his forearm had disabled his right hand.  By this time he was on the ground and lay over on his left side in the attempt to get the pistol into his left hand.  His right hand was completely useless, but he managed to pull the pistol out of it with his left hand and began firing again, getting off several rounds and hearing Kellogg yell when he got hit. 

Kellogg was also down and temporarily quit firing, and Pantoja took advantage of the pause to change his empty clip for a full one, but with only one working hand he had trouble snapping the clip into place. He managed, though, by shoving it in against his left knee. 

Both men were clearly visible to one another in the light of an almost full moon.*  After a moment Kellogg raised up and shot once again.  With a full clip, Pantoja returned fire and got off several rounds before Kellogg again went down.  There was another pause, and Pantoja spoke to Livingston, telling her to come toward him but not to run or he’d have to shoot her.  She asked him if she could put her hand to the side of her head where she’d been shot, and he said yes. 

* The full moon was two days later on July 13.  During the shootout, the moon was still fairly high in the southwestern sky.  It set about two and a half hours later at 4:16am.
 

Kellogg was now on his knees all balled up.  Pantoja told him to stay down and not to move, but he did, and Pantoja hit him with two more shots.  Kellogg cried out again and collapsed.  While this was going on, Livingston was pleading with Pantoja, imploring him to stop shooting Kellogg.  When he did stop, she asked him if she could go check on Kellogg.  Concerned that she might be going for the pistol, he told her no, that, if she did, he’d shoot her.  He told her to just stay still and wait for help. 

Pantoja tried several times to use his portable radio to call the Nolan County Sheriff’s Office but had trouble getting it to work.  When Livingston heard him saying into it, “Officer down, shots fired, send an ambulance,” it was only then that she realized Pantoja had been shot, too.  Not too long after that, Pantoja heard a siren in the distance and knew that help was on the way. 

First on the scene was Deputy Michael Johnson, who arrived at 1:55am.  He got out of his patrol car trying to locate Pantoja and calling out his name.  Pantoja yelled, “Help, I’m shot” and raised his arm.  As Johnson spotted him and started in his direction, Pantoja warned him that a male suspect was down but still had a gun.  Johnson then saw Kellogg, who was lying face down in a pool of blood but still moving slightly.  Johnson saw Kellogg’s pistol lying on the ground next to him and kicked it away before picking it up and handcuffing Kellogg.  Then at Pantoja’s directions, he got Pantoja’s handcuffs and put them on Livingston.  He then put the pistol in the patrol car, got a flashlight, and returned to Pantoja with a first aid kit.

Pantoja could feel his pants leg wet with blood and knew he’d been shot in the thigh.  He asked Johnson to pull his trousers off to see how bad the wound was and to see if they could stop the bleeding.  Johnson told Pantoja the bullet had gone all the way through and began dressing his wounds.


Paramedics treat the downed gunmen where they fell.
Pantoja had been hit four times—in the right thigh, the right hip, the right forearm, and in the right upper chest area.  The last one had hit his Kevlar body armor, which most likely saved his life because, although the shell caused a severe bruise and some bleeding under the skin, it never penetrated his body.

Others arrived on the scene.  Deputy Fabian Jimenez came first and others shortly after that, including emergency personnel with an ambulance.  Jimenez and Johnson got Pantoja’s pants down and treated his thigh wound, and then the medical personnel took over.


Meanwhile, other officers took pictures and secured the crime scene.  Upon examining Kellogg’s .45 handgun, they found one round still in the chamber and an empty clip.  They also found the other clip with seven full rounds in the black holster that Kellogg was wearing.  This meant that of the six rounds in the other clip Kellogg had put in the pistol, five had been discharged, four of them had hit Pantoja, and the other had grazed Livingston.

Paramedics place Kellogg on a gurney.
Kellogg had serious head wounds and was still alive but unresponsive.  The paramedics placed him on a gurney, put him in a helicopter at around 2:40am, and airlifted him to Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene.  At 3:00am they did the same for Pantoja.  A female officer was put in charge of Livingston, whose wound was not serious.  Nevertheless, she was put in an ambulance and taken to Rolling Plains Hospital in Sweetwater for treatment.

It was not until Deputy Mark Taylor interviewed Livingston at the hospital that they realized a third person had been in the vehicle, whom Livingston identified as J.D. and said that he’d stayed in room 127 at the Century Lodge in Abilene.  With that information, police made a phone call and quickly learned that J. D. was James David Doolan.  Then someone called the Sweetwater Police to report that a white male, who appeared to have been involved in an accident, was walking along US 84 near Roscoe, trying to hitchhike.  Law officers were immediately sent to the area, and the search for J. D. was on. 

After responding to a couple of false leads in Roscoe, police learned that Doolan had walked to the office of a highway construction site a mile away from the shootout and told someone there he’d had a wreck up the road and needed a ride.  Someone took him to the Truck & Travel restaurant on I-20 just west of Roscoe.  Then at 7:00am, officers were told that someone fitting Doolan’s description had just left the Truck & Travel with a black family in a motor home on their way to get gas at the Town & Country service station on I-20 about a mile east.  Officers went there and saw the motor home at the gas pumps.  They found Doolan inside it and arrested him.  

Shortly before that, Dr. Lehnert of the Hendrick Medical Center emergency room notified police that Kellogg had died of his wounds at 5:48am. His body was taken to Avalon Mortuary Services, where it was learned that he’d been shot in seven places: the lower abdomen, the right elbow, the upper right shoulder, above the right eye, below the right eye, beside the left eye, and in top of the head. 

Upon learning of Kellogg’s death, Deputy Mark Taylor called the police in Gwinnette County, Georgia, and had them send an officer to the home of Kellogg’s mother and stepfather to give them the news.  Shortly thereafter, Taylor received a phone call from Kellogg’s mother.  He read her the death notification and gave her the details leading to Kellogg’s death.  He then started telling her how she could claim the body, but she interrupted him and said, “You can keep that body.  I don’t want it.  He’s been nothing but trouble ever since he was a kid.”  Later, however, Taylor did get a call from Kellogg’s brother, who requested and received information on getting the body. 

In the days following, the police were able to solve several robberies and burglaries in the Abilene and Dallas areas with information that Livingston provided them in her confession.  They also notified law enforcement in Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states and were able to do the same in many places there.

Officer Pantoja spent four days in the hospital recovering from his wounds.  The shots to the thigh and lower abdomen were not life-threatening since both bullets had gone through his body without hitting bone or any vital organs.  Similarly, the shot to his right upper chest caused a severe bruise and some internal bleeding but wasn’t critical because it didn’t penetrate his body armor.  His most serious wound was the one to his right forearm because it shattered bone.  He wore a cast on it for six weeks, and, although the bone mended and he recovered full use of his right hand, the wound left some lasting effects and aches.  

Dana Livingston, whose only injury was the graze to the head from Kellogg’s second shot, was released from Rolling Plains Hospital and taken to the Nolan County Jail in Sweetwater, where she stayed for almost two months.  Then on September 2, she agreed to a plea bargain with a sentence of ten years’ incarceration in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, along with court costs, fines, attorney’s fees, and restitution to the businesses burglarized in Sweetwater.

On October 27, J. D. Doolan, after 109 days in the Nolan County Jail, also agreed to a plea bargain.  His sentence was four years imprisonment along with similar court costs, fines, fees, and restitution.



Felix Pantoja displays the Medal of Valor from the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas.
In the weeks following the shootout, Pantoja was showered with honors and awards for his devotion to duty and bravery under fire.  In a formal ceremony, Roscoe Police Chief Lance Richburg awarded him an honor pin, and he also received plaques of appreciation from the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department, the Roscoe Lions Club, and the Nolan County Sheriff’s Office.  The Sons of the American Revolution awarded him a law enforcement commendation medal, and the Texas Law Enforcement Association presented him its version of the Purple Heart as well as the Medal of Valor, its first.  The Kevlar Survivor’s Club made him a member, Governor Rick Perry wrote him a letter of commendation, and President George W. Bush sent an autographed photo. 

“I’m very proud to wear the medals on my uniform,” Pantoja said. “I’m even more proud to serve as an officer in Roscoe.”

The following year when Chief Lance Richburg left, Pantoja was promoted and has served as Roscoe’s Chief of Police ever since.  In that time, he’s served the city well and been in some serious scrapes and tough situations.  None, however, have been quite as spectacular or as deadly as the shootout in 2003 with Phillip Kellogg.


© 2013

Edwin Duncan

This narrative was compiled from the official police reports coming from all of the involved parties—police officers, sheriff’s deputies, the Texas Ranger in charge of the overall report, the female fugitive, who survived the shooting and was interviewed twice after being taken into custody—as well as from Officer Pantoja’s official report and from subsequent discussions with him.  It has been placed on file in the Roscoe Historical Museum.

2 comments:

  1. A great story about my friend and hero.

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