This 12-inch knife was taken from Sean Pepper in Chama after he allegedly threatened and chased a motel owner with it.

When Chama motel owner Austin Phippen saw a suspicious car outside his business, he decided to question the driver. But things didn’t go well and the man threatened Phippen, then chased him with a machete.

Phippen, 29, of Chama, was closing the office of the Chama Trails Inn Motel at 10:15 p.m., July 29, when he noticed a Subaru Forrester that had been parked outside of the business for five or 10 minutes. He didn’t recognize the car, so he decided to talk to the driver, who was later identified as Sean Pepper, 43, of Albuquerque.

Phippen told Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Deputy Dominic Montoya, who responded to the scene, that he went up to the front passenger window and spoke with Pepper, who said something to the effect of, “Are you a cop? I don’t see a badge.”

Phippen identified himself as the motel owner, to which Pepper responded, “Who are you to be asking me those questions?” Phippen then told the man he needed to get off of his property. Pepper got upset and said if he had a pistol, he would shoot him in the face.

“Mr. Phippen informed me he was not sure if Mr. Pepper was joking or not and replied, ‘really?’” According to Montoya’s report. “Mr. Phippen then informed me Mr. Pepper repeated himself about three more times and then stated he would rather just stab him.”

That’s when Pepper grabbed an 8 to 12-inch blade from between the front seats, opened the driver’s door and got out of the car. Phippen saw the man had a machete. So he ran back to the motel office.

“Mr. Phippen, while he was running toward the office, he was scared he was going to feel something stabbing his back,” Montoya wrote. “Mr. Phippen stated he made it to the motel office and quickly locked the door.”

Once inside, he yelled at his wife to grab a gun and call 911. She grabbed a shotgun and gave it to him, but when he turned around to look for Pepper, he was gone.

When Montoya arrived, Phippen recounted what happened. The deputy left the area, searching for Pepper’s Subaru, when he got a call from dispatch, telling him that Phippen called back and said Pepper was at the gas station next door to the motel.

Montoya found him there and introduced himself. He then asked the man where he was coming from.

“Mr. Pepper was very evasive in his answers as he asked me several times why I needed to know,” Montoya wrote.

He told the man he was making contact because of an incident that occurred at the motel next door. Pepper told him he was just trying to roll a cigarette when a man came up to him and told him to leave.

“While I was speaking with Mr. Pepper I observed he had red bloodshot watery eyes and a strong odor or some type of intoxicating liquor emitting from his breath and persons,” Montoya wrote.

The deputy asked Pepper for his information or driver’s license, but he refused to cooperate, telling him he had no right to ask for his information. After several more refusals to supply his information to the deputy, he finally gave it to him.

As Montoya was walking toward the Subaru, he saw the machete on the passenger seat. He called Phippen to the scene to identify the weapon.

“Mr. Phippen stated Mr. Pepper was the man that chased him with the machete and the machete matched what he saw,” Montoya wrote.

As Montoya was on the phone with his supervisor, Sgt. Jack Casias, Pepper said, “Yeah, I was going to slice up that mother(expletive),” according to the report. 

He said it three more times while Montoya was on the phone.

After he finished his conversation, Montoya told Pepper he was arresting him for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The man’s car was towed and the machete was tagged into evidence. Pepper was booked into the Rio Arriba County Detention Center.

According to an online court records search, Pepper’s case was bound over, on Aug. 20, to district court from Chama Magistrate Court. He is scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 14 in Tierrra Amarilla District Court, before Judge Jason Lidyard.

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