Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Las Cruces Police identify man killed in shooting Saturday

LAS CRUCES – Police released the name of a man who was killed by officials in a shooting in the middle of a residential area on Saturday.

Gustavo Angel Esparza, 35, was killed by police after police said he shot an officer who was conducting a traffic control.

Frank Torres, a detective with the Las Cruces Police Department, said Esparza was on a state arrest warrant for a probation violation in California. According to federal court documents, Esparza was arrested in 2014 and parole for attempted rape in California.

Torres said Esparza was previously arrested in California for a number of crimes, including assault with a lethal weapon and resisting or evading an officer. Esparza has no criminal record in New Mexico, according to court records.

The incident began at around 8 p.m. on Saturday near the intersection of 5th Street and Wilson Avenue.

Police said Esparza shot two officers on Saturday night before leading police on a brief chase. After an hour-long stalemate and failed negotiations at 4th Street and Davis Avenue, police said they had used “a chemical” to force Esparza out of the car.

When Esparza got out of the car, he reached back briefly in the gasoline-filled vehicle, according to a press release from Torres. Police believed he grabbed a gun and shot Esparza several times, killing him.

Torres later said a weapon was discovered in the area that reached Esparza.

During the shooting, a passerby was hit by a stray bullet. Torres said the bystander was flown to El Paso, where it is in stable condition.

The shootout is still being investigated, Torres said.

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Justin Garcia is a public safety reporter for the Las Cruces Sun News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 575-541-5449 or on Twitter at @ Just516garc.

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