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Three officers injured, suspect killed in Cruces

Las Cruces police investigate an officer-involved shooting near Lohman and Telshor on Monday. Police say a man was shot and killed and three officers were injured after the man fired on authorities. (Nathan J. Fish/The Las Cruces Sun-News)

A man was shot and killed and three law enforcement officers were injured when a check on a suspicious person turned into a shootout between the suspect and officers from four law enforcement agencies early Monday in Las Cruces.

Two Las Cruces police officers and a Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy were injured in the incident, but their injuries are not life-threatening, the Las Cruces Police Department said in a news release. Police believe they have identified the suspected shooter but were waiting to contact the man’s family before identifying him, said Dan Trujillo, a spokesman for the Police Department.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release that its agents were the ones who shot and killed the man after he opened fire on them and other law enforcement officers in Las Cruces early Monday, although Las Cruces police said four agencies fired weapons.

“The subject fired at agents and officers,” the Border Patrol said in its release. “Border Patrol agents returned fire with their service-issued weapon, striking the subject. The subject was reported dead on the scene and none of the Border Patrol agents responding was injured.”

The agency said it was cooperating with the Las Cruces Police Department’s investigation. Under CBP policy, the release says, the agency will also conduct an internal investigation of the incident led by the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility and the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General.

According to the Las Cruces Police Department, the incident began shortly before 2:30 a.m. when a Las Cruces police officer approached a suspicious person near Lohman Avenue and Nacho Drive.

“Preliminary information indicates the officer, in his marked police unit, shined a spotlight on the subject, who was on foot,” the agency said. “The subject … fired multiple rounds at the officer’s police unit.”

At least two rounds went through the police vehicle’s windshield, one of them striking the officer in the upper chest near his neck. The officer was able to drive himself to a nearby hospital, according to police.

The shooting suspect then apparently tried to carjack a delivery driver near Home Depot, 225 N. Telshor Blvd., but was unsuccessful. Officers from Las Cruces police, New Mexico State Police, the Sheriff’s Office and Border Patrol converged on the area and found the man near the home improvement store, according to Las Cruces police.

“Officers attempted to take the suspect into custody and gave multiple commands, but he was non-compliant. Officers fired non-lethal munitions but they, too, were largely ineffective. It’s believed the suspect fired at least one round toward officers before they responded with multiple rounds,” the release says.

A Las Cruces police officer and a Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy were injured during that final confrontation. Trujillo said it’s not clear how those two law enforcement officers were injured.

Las Cruces police and the multi-agency Officer-involved Incident Task Force are investigating the incident. Other agencies involved in the investigation are the New Mexico State Police, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, the New Mexico State University Police Department and the Border Patrol.

Businesses near the scene were closed for part of the day while the scene was processed, police said.

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