ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Investigators are trying to piece together what had been happening in the life of 54-year-old Sandia Park resident John Chavez in the days before he was fatally shot by a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy.
Law enforcement hadn’t been to the home to deal with Chavez previously, and Chavez had no known criminal history in New Mexico, other than a conviction for DWI in 2011, according to court records and a BCSO spokesman.
There were no indications as of Monday that Chavez was living with mental illness, although that question will be answered more fully through the work of a multi-agency investigation into the shooting, BCSO Sgt. Aaron Williamson said.
Deputy Jarod Beasley shot Chavez once in the torso, Williamson said, after Chavez pointed a hunting rifle equipped with a scope at a group of deputies who were retreating from a tight perimeter they had set up around his home on the 300 block of La Madera Road.
Chavez’s ex-wife had called 911 from another location around 4:30 p.m. Sunday to report that he was threatening suicide at his East Mountains home, Williamson said. BCSO was responding to that call.
Beasley was standing behind Chavez when he shot him, Williamson said. He did not know whether Beasley used his BCSO-issued pistol or his AR-15 assault-style rifle, and he did not know where the single shot entered Chavez’s body.
Beasley has been with BCSO since 2010. He was honored last month for his role in saving a woman who was trying to jump to her death off Sandia Crest.
At least one of the deputies who went to Chavez’s home Sunday was trained in crisis intervention, according to Williamson. One of the crisis negotiators began talking with Chavez while other deputies surrounded the house. Some of those deputies were armed with less-lethal weapons, such as Tasers.
During the negotiations, Chavez went inside his home and came back out with a “high-powered rifle,” Williamson said. He went inside the home a second time and emerged with a second gun.
The negotiations began to break down, Williamson said, so the BCSO commander in charge of the incident decided to pull all the deputies back and reassess the situation.
“As deputies were retreating, Chavez took one of his rifles and pointed it at the retreating deputies,” Williamson wrote in a news release. “Fearing an immediate lethal threat to the retreating deputies, Deputy Beasley … fired a single round striking Chavez in the torso.”
Chavez died at the scene, according to the news release.
Beasley is on paid leave, which is standard, while a team of officers from BCSO, the Albuquerque Police Department, State Police and the District Attorney’s Office investigate the shooting.