Springfield police officer catches two Safeway theft suspects on the run

John Michael Shafer, left, and Michael Lee Fletcher mug shots courtesy Springfield Municipal Jail

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – A former Beavers linebacker, now a Springfield police officer, proved he can still chase people down Saturday when he responded to a report of a theft at a Safeway.

According to the Springfield Police Department, Officer Keith Pankey, who used to play for the Beavers football team, responded to the reported theft at the Safeway at 1891 Pioneer Parkway at 5:10 p.m.

Officers learned the suspect, John Michael Shafer, 40, had fled the store after he was confronted by loss prevention officials.

Police said Pankey arrived and located Shafer nearby. They say Shafer attempted to flee on foot, but he couldn’t outrun Pankey who caught him and took him into custody.

Pankey returned to the Safeway store with Shafer at 5:30 p.m., police said.

When he exited his patrol car, a Safeway employee told him loss prevention was chasing another theft suspect.

Police said Pankey then pursued the second theft suspect, Michael Lee Fletcher, 29. Pankey caught Fletcher on Q Street west of 2nd Street and took him into custody, police said.

According to Springfield police, Shafer and Fletcher were both charged with theft III and shared a ride to the Springfield Municipal Jail where they were both lodged.

Police say both Shafer and Fletcher are registered sex offenders who were currently out of compliance when they were taken into custody.

Police say the thefts were unrelated.

Springfield police said Pankey played his last game at Oregon State University in 2012.

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