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Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
A one-man crime wave Friday morning that investigators say involved a home invasion, the taking of two hostages and injuries to a deputy hit by a stolen escape vehicle ended with death of the suspect at the hands of Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies.
The event concluded on a pastoral road south of Albuquerque after at least one deputy opened fire on the suspect after they say he pinned a deputy between the car and a light pole.
The injured deputy had sprains, a fractured toe and possible head injuries, but is expected to be OK, said Chief Deputy Ray Chavez in a Friday morning news conference.
“He’s very shaken up, very traumatized, by this event,” Chavez said. “It’s very traumatizing and not just to him, but to his family and the law enforcement community.”
He said the two hostages, who are both adults, are also very shaken up, but were not harmed. They didn’t know the suspect.
Chavez didn’t release the name of the suspect or any of the deputies involved.
Captain Andi Taylor, a BCSO spokeswoman said the whole incident started around 6 a.m. when deputies were called by the Isleta Police Department to help them catch a man trying to steal golf carts from the course near Interstate 25 and 2nd Street.
“Deputies go to assist them and see a man is running across the golf course and into an open field,” Taylor said. “They lose sight of him.”
But a short time later, a retired police officer called 911 to say someone had tried to break into his car at his house nearby and he had chased him away, she said.
Then deputies heard the sound of a window being broken and went to respond at a house on Las Garzas Lane off 2nd. That house, a spacious, gated home at the end of a dead-end street, remained cordoned off with crime tape for much of Friday.
Deputies said that as they were setting up a perimeter they saw the garage door open and a car drive out.
“The offender flees with the homeowner’s car and takes the two homeowners hostage,” Taylor said. “The deputies could see them banging on the window and screaming for help.”
Taylor said that as the stolen car sped down 2nd, deputies were able to perform a maneuver to stop it and ordered the suspect to surrender. She said he instead accelerated forward pinning the deputy between the car and a light pole.
That’s when at least one deputy fired, killing the suspect, Chavez said. He didn’t know if the hostages were in the car when shots were fired, but said the hostages were not harmed.
He also didn’t know if the pinned deputy was the one who fired, how many deputies opened fire or how many times they fired their weapons. He said at least one deputy is on paid administrative leave, but he didn’t know if others were.
Chavez said more details will be made public after deputies have been interviewed over the next couple of days.
A multi-jurisdictional team of local law enforcement agencies will investigate the shooting, as is standard in these cases.
This is the third time this week that a deputy has discharged his weapon, and the fourth time this month. It’s the second fatal shooting in which a deputy was involved this month.
On July 4, deputy Charles Coggins shot and killed a man who fled from a traffic stop near a South Valley car wash. Miguel Gonzales, 28, who also went by Miguel Gonzalez, had been driving a red Chevrolet Monte Carlo that had a stolen license plate when deputies say they tried to pull him over. They say he fled to his nearby family’s home and was running through the backyard when he was shot and killed. A gun was found on the scene.
On Sunday, deputies opened fire after a suspect in a stolen vehicle rammed into their cruisers. No one was struck in that shooting.
And early Tuesday morning, Coggins again shot and injured a man who is suspected of breaking into cars in a South Valley apartment complex parking lot. Deputies say Charles Chavez, 26, refused to show his hands and said he had a gun before he was shot. No gun was found at that scene and Chavez is expected to recover.
Chief Deputy Ray Chavez said he talked to Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, who was on a pre-planned vacation Friday when the most recent shooting occurred, and the sheriff told him he is concerned about the safety of his deputies and the community.
“We’re number one in the nation for stolen vehicles, and we’re number one on other lists that we don’t want to be number one on,” Chavez said. “But it’s not stopping our deputies from doing their job or hindering our deputies from going out there, making contacts, and making sure the citizens of Bernalillo County and Albuquerque are safe.”
He said he is grateful for the support from the community and asked for thoughts and prayers for the injured deputy as well as the suspect’s family.
“We understand that this individual did something really harmful to our deputy but we still want to give our condolences to his family,” Chavez said. “A loss of life is a very tragic event and no deputy wants to be a part of it.”