A call about a woman using drugs in a gas station bathroom Friday morning ended in a shootout with her male companion that left a New Mexico State Police supervisor injured and resulted in an intensive search of the East Mountains for the assailants.
During an afternoon news conference in Albuquerque, State Police Chief Tim Johnson said the supervisor was shot at least once and is “going to be OK.”
He said police believe they tracked the couple back to the city “through various investigative tools” and had detained them along Central around 3:15 p.m.
“Until we get them back here and interview them, we’re not going to know for sure,” Johnson said.
Around 10:30 p.m., State Police spokesman Dusty Francisco said the couple they had detained turned out to not be involved in the incident. He said the woman was questioned and released, while the man was arrested on an “unrelated warrant.”
Francisco said both suspects from the shooting are still on the loose, and shared a photo of the woman allegedly involved in the incident and asked the public’s help in identifying her.
During the afternoon news conference, before delving into a play-by-play of the incident, Chief Johnson remarked, “Here we are again,” noting the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of State Police officer Darian Jarrott was less than a week ago.”I feel like we’re here more often than we should be these days,” Johnson said. “So, if you sense the disgust or frustration in my voice, you would be correct.”
The latest shooting of a New Mexico State Police officer began not with a traffic stop, but a routine call in the East Mountains.
Johnson said around 8:15 a.m., a clerk at Mr. Gas Mart in Edgewood reported a woman was using drugs in the bathroom. When the State Police supervisor arrived, the woman was with a man inside a Cadillac parked in front of the station.
“Our supervisor called for backup; backup didn’t arrive in time,” Johnson said.
He said the supervisor approached the car and the man put it into reverse and rammed it into a State Police vehicle multiple times before driving off westbound on N.M. 333.
The supervisor gave chase and used a PIT maneuver to stop the Cadillac near the Sedillo Hill overpass. Police said the couple got out of the crashed car and the man opened fire on the supervisor, striking him.
“Despite being injured, the supervisor was able to recover and return fire at the suspect,” Francisco, the State Police spokesman, wrote in a news release. “It is unknown if the suspects were struck by the supervisor’s gunfire.”
Johnson said the suspects ran east into the rugged terrain of the East Mountains.
The incident kicked off an hourslong search by tactical officers, police dogs, helicopters and drones as almost every local and federal law enforcement agency in the area descended on the mountainous area near Sedillo Hill.
Authorities said the suspects were a heavyset man wearing a black hoodie and blue pants, and a woman with a thin build, wearing a tan shirt and black leggings.
Johnson said incidents such as this one don’t help the morale of law enforcement, particularly State Police in New Mexico who have been through much turmoil in the past couple of years.
At the Roundhouse on Friday, the New Mexico Senate paused for a moment of silence in honor of the injured officer.
Sen. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras, who represents the area where the incident occurred, said he saw multiple law enforcement vehicles traveling at high speed to the scene Friday morning.
“That’s when I knew something really bad had happened,” Schmedes said.
During a pause in the floor session of the state House, Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, said the injured officer is a friend.
Lord said she hoped authorities would soon “find the despicable person that did this.”
Dan Boyd and Dan McKay of the Journal Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.