At some point before he was pulled over by an Albuquerque police officer in the early morning hours of Nov. 15 on suspicion of drunken driving, Robert “Bobby” Garcia Sr., 64, purchased a pellet gun because it looked like a real firearm.
And Garcia, who is facing the prospect of child sexual assault charges in Taos County, tucked a note into his wallet that said “Thank you officer” in red marker on a piece of legal paper.
APD Chief Allen Banks laid out that scenario Friday and said the preparation was all part of Garcia’s plan to commit suicide by cop — and the note was his way to say thank you to whichever officer shot and killed him.
Garcia nearly succeeded.
After he was pulled over at 3 a.m. in the 4400 block of Montgomery Boulevard by veteran APD officer Peter Romero, Garcia got out of his car and walked toward the officer, pellet gun in hand.
Banks said Garcia ignored as many as nine commands to drop the weapon before the officer decided to shoot.
Garcia was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, though Banks said his condition has improved, and has since apologized for putting Romero in a position where the officer felt he had to fire his weapon. Garcia made that apology during a recent interview with detectives.
Garcia will be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer when he is released from the University of New Mexico Hospital, Banks said.
Banks said Romero observed Garcia driving east on Montgomery at about 5 mph and swerving. Romero put on his emergency lights and pulled Garcia over.
As Romero called in his position, Garcia stepped out of the car with the pellet gun and approached the officer. Banks showed one lapel camera video still that showed Garcia pointing the gun at the officer.
Investigators questioned Garcia’s family who said Garcia had been feeling suicidal.
Banks said Garcia is being investigated on felony charges by New Mexico State Police, and State Police spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said Garcia will be charged in the next couple of days with criminal sexual contact of a minor for allegedly groping a 6-year-old in Taos County.
Gutierrez said that charge comes from an alleged contact Garcia made with the child Sept. 23. State Police are now working with the District Attorney’s Office to serve a warrant on Garcia, as he is now in custody, Gutierrez said.