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A Roswell man is accused of carjacking someone at gunpoint, kidnapping a woman and leading New Mexico State Police on a chase that ended with officers shooting at him Monday in southeast New Mexico.
Joel Contreras, 27, is charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault against a police officer with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, aggravated fleeing and other felonies. He has been booked into the Chaves County Detention Center.
According to records, his criminal history includes arrests on stolen vehicle, burglary and larceny charges, among others. In 2020, he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading no contest to burglary and stolen vehicle charges.
Monday’s encounter began with a carjacking in Roswell.
Authorities responded around 5:45 p.m. to reports of an armed robbery at a convenience store, according to a criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court. A man told police the suspect stole his SUV at gunpoint in the parking lot.
Police located the vehicle nearby using a tracking device. Once there, three men told officers a man in an SUV had pulled up and pointed a gun at them.
Dusty Francisco, a State Police spokesman, said a Chaves County Sheriff’s deputy spotted the stolen SUV, but the driver fled. He said police and deputies pursued the driver east on U.S. 380, where spike strips were used to try to stop it.
Francisco said a State Police officer parked on the side of the road shot at the SUV “for reasons still under investigation” and the SUV crashed.
According to the complaint, a State Police agent told Roswell police the shooting occurred due to Contreras “supposedly swerving” at an officer.
Police said Contreras and a 23-year-old woman were detained at the scene. The woman told police Contreras had kidnapped her at gunpoint off the street in Roswell.
She said that, during the chase, Contreras threatened to kill her and her family, and, at one point, drove head-on toward a police vehicle, according to the complaint. She told police she jerked the wheel away from Contreras and officers shot at the SUV before they crashed.
Contreras asked for a lawyer and declined to speak with police.