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Robert Bruce “Kip” Bates — a 39-year-old Marine who fought in Operation Desert Storm — was shot twice around 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007, at the Carter Lake “Jump Start” convenience store after stepping outside to take a break.
He never should have been there.
Bates’ girlfriend, Tracy Kaiser, expected to deliver the couple’s child within the month, and Bates hadn’t been scheduled to work that night but switched schedules with another employee.
Bates worked alone at the store that night, and when he went out the front door to take a break, was shot twice in about two seconds.
“The shooter did walk up to the store entrance where he was met by the victim,” said Pottawattamie County Deputy Sgt. Dwayne Riche.
Bates managed to make it back inside and dial 911, but would die before help could arrive.
Known for being the type of guy who’d help out older people, his murder devastated family and friends from across the U.S.
In their search for the person who shot Bates, investigators gave the KETV NewsWatch 7 (Omaha) I-Team extraordinary access to evidence in the case, including the disturbing surveillance video documenting Bates’ last moments.
“This has been a very tough case,” said Chad Driver, a lead investigator with the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department.
Driver said the surveillance video is the best evidence they have and depicts Bates being shot twice: once in the lower-left abdomen, which exited Bates’ back, and once in the chest, which Driver said struck Bates’ spine.
While Bates was able to call 911, he was not able to say anything.
KETV NewsWatch 7 obtained a copy of what Pottawattamie County emergency dispatchers call an open 911 line:
“911. What’s the address for emergency? Hello? Hello?”
The dispatcher sent an officer to the scene, who arrived at the store about three minutes later.
Dispatch: “Did you need another car?”
Officer: “10-4. I also … possibly a male’s been shot.”
Driver said the last moments of Bates’ life were agonizing.
“He lived for approximately 2½ minutes. In the 2½ minutes he struggled to get up, he struggled to call for help. He struggled to crawl,” Driver said.
Investigators are not only looking for a killer, but also a motive.
Officials said robbery wasn’t considered a motive because the gunman never went inside the store and didn’t steal any cash or property.
Bates had, however, recently told a family member about a confrontation he’d had with a man.
Bates’ uncle told Channel 6 News that Bates recently had been involved in some kind of an altercation at the convenience store. It had bothered Bates enough to mention it, but not enough to elaborate or report it to police.
Riche called Bates a mysterious person who led a very private life. In other words, Riche said, not many of Bates’ friends knew what he was doing.
With robbery ruled out as a motive, investigators said they have to rely on just a few seconds of surveillance video and any information they can get from the public.
“We believe that we’ve used what we can to assist us in the investigation and now we’d obviously like the public’s help in finishing up what we’re looking into,” Riche said.
“Somebody knows. Somebody was driving by and saw a car leave. Somebody has heard something,” said Driver.
A few weeks after Bates’ murder, Tracy gave birth to the couple’s daughter.
Robert Bruce “Kip” Bates, III, was born December 15, 1967.
He served as Lance Corporal with the United States Marine Corps in the Persian Gulf.
In addition to his daughter with Tracy Kaiser, Bates was survived by two other children — a daughter, Kylee Bates, and son, Robbie Bates IV, both of California.
Robert Bates was buried at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, Calif., in Solano County.
Investigators ask anyone with information about Robert Bates’ unsolved murder to contact Pottawattamie County Crime Stoppers at 712-328-STOP (7867) or Carter Lake police at 712-347-5920.
Tipsters can remain anonymous and if their information leads to an arrest and charges, they could get a cash reward.