Deputy shot, suspect killed in Valencia County

The Valencia County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police and Los Lunas Police Department investigate after two deputies were injured and a suspect was killed in back to back shootings Friday afternoon near Los Lunas. (Julia M. Dendinger / Valencia County News-Bulletin)

One Valencia County deputy was shot and another was hit by shrapnel before the suspect was killed after a chase Friday afternoon near Los Lunas.

Valencia County Sheriff Denise Vigil said the two deputies were taken to an Albuquerque hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

At about 3 p.m. Friday a deputy was dispatched to the area of mile marker 19 on N.M. 6 west of the village of Los Lunas to investigate a suspicious vehicle. When the deputy arrived, he found a Honda Civic and a man and a woman.

New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson said during a news conference Friday evening the exact details of the contact between the deputy and the two individuals are still being investigated.

“We’re looking into that piece to figure out exactly what happened, but at some point, it appears gunfire was exchanged between the male subject and the deputy,” Johnson said.

New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson and Valencia County Sheriff Denise Vigil brief re-porters on a shooting incident that injured two Valencia County deputies and left one suspect dead. (Julia M. Dendinger / Valencia County News-Bulletin)

The deputy was struck at least once by gunfire, and the man and woman fled in a white Dodge pickup truck. The deputy alerted dispatchers about the incident and a short time later additional VCSO deputies and Los Lunas police officers found and began pursuing the truck driving east on N.M. 6 through Los Lunas.

State Police officers in the area heard the radio traffic and assisted in the pursuit. The driver of the Dodge turned north onto N.M. 314, eventually losing control of the vehicle and crashing near Davila Road, Johnson said.

After the crash, the woman got out of the truck and ran east on foot, the chief said, and the man began shooting at the two Valencia County deputies and a State Police officer at the scene.

The three officers returned fire, killing the suspect. At this time, Johnson said it is unknown which officer fired the fatal shot.

“We won’t know that until we’ve done trajectory at the crime scene, other analysis,” he said.

One of the two VCSO deputies involved in the shooting on N.M. 314 was injured by shrapnel and, along with the deputy shot on N.M. 6, was taken to the hospital.

The woman has been detained and is being interviewed, Johnson said, but her name and that of the dead suspect aren’t being released at this time.

The chase through town caused several crashes along Main Street, Johnson said, which are being handled by the sheriff’s office and Los Lunas Police Department.

Vigil said she was grateful for the assistance of State Police and the Los Lunas Police Department.

“My prayers are with the deputies and their families. They will never be the same,” Vigil said. “They are expected to just continue on, but they’ll never, ever be the same.”

The two Valencia County deputies brought the total number of law enforcement officers injured in New Mexico on Friday to three, Johnson said. A Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy sustained minor injuries from bullet fragments after responding to a call of shots fired earlier Friday.

“I just want to wish the best to the two deputies that were injured today, the one officer in Las Cruces earlier today, to the sheriff and her department, the families of the deputies and to my officer, who probably won’t ever be the same, as you aren’t after these types of incidents,” Johnson said. “Four (Albuquerque Police Department) officers were shot two weeks ago. I am beyond disgusted with the violence we’re seeing in the state.”

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, on Twitter, offered prayers to the deputies injured in the incident.

“Once again NM is seeing Law Enforcement Officers injured by violence. We will all be looking for answers in the coming days,” he wrote. “We must unite and work to create statewide legislation to hold criminals accountable and safeguard citizens and officers.”

The incident comes on the heels of a shooting that left four Albuquerque police officers injured – one critically – during a gunfight with an armed robbery suspect in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights.

Journal Staff Writer Matthew Reisen contributed to this report.

 

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