Updated at 3pm Sunday October 10th
LAS CRUCES – Las Cruces police have confirmed one man is dead and another is in stable condition after a shootout struck Las Cruces on Saturday night.
LCPD Det. Frank Torres said in a press release that the incident began when police attempted a traffic control at the intersection of 5th Street and Wilson Avenue around 8 p.m.
“Preliminary investigations have shown that the vehicle came to an abrupt stop during the traffic control and the driver, a male, immediately opened fire and shot at least one bullet at the officers of the two-man police unit,” said Torres.
The two officers returned fire before the suspect hurried away, Torres said. That led to a brief chase that ended at the intersection of 4th Street and Davis Avenue.
Torres said the suspect would not obey police orders, prompting the LCPD and New Mexico State Police SWAT teams to join the incident.
“The Las Cruces Police hostage negotiation team has also responded to communicate with the subject to seek approval and peaceful surrender to the authorities,” Torres said in the press release.
The man in the car didn’t give up, however, which resulted in an hour-long stalemate, Torres said.
“A chemical agent was placed in the suspect vehicle to gain allegiance and surrender of the subject,” said Torres.
After the vehicle was filled with the chemical, the suspect got out of the car. Then he seemed to reach into the car again, said Torres. The police shot the suspect several times.
“The subject received medical attention, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators found a handgun in the area the subject reached,” said Torres.
The police did not disclose the suspect’s name.
Dolores Ybarra, who lives near Davis and Third Street and moved to a friend’s house on Sixth Street in the middle of the stalemate, said she heard a rapid series of shots – “about 10 to 15 shots” – around 11:15 p.m.
During the shooting, a passer-by was struck in the crossfire. Torres said this person was flown to El Paso and is in stable condition.
Torres did not provide any further details about the bystanders.
Ybarra said she knew the man who was hit and said he was at his house near 4th and Davis when he was hit by gunfire.
Several agencies responded to the incident, including New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces Police Department, Doña Ana District Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State University Police.
“Witnesses or anyone else with information about this incident is requested to call Las Cruces Police Department at 575-526-0795,” Torres said.
House also hit by gunfire
Diana Saenz witnessed the first traffic control and shooting. She said she was in front of her house on the 1100 block of Wilson when she noticed a police force stop a vehicle going south on Fifth Avenue.
“There were no sirens, only lights,” Saenz said, noting that it appeared to be a “normal traffic control”.
Then she heard a shot, a short pause, and then a rapid series of “15 to 18 shots, easy”. Then the vehicle was “peeled away” and the police unit followed.
Saenz’s sister Bianca Rede lives next door on the corner of Wilson and Fifth. One of the bullets from the shooting ricocheted off her home, denting the adobe structure.
“I’m just glad my dogs weren’t hit because they were out here in the yard,” said Rede on Sunday as she comforted Beck and Dynamite, their English pointers. Besides, Rede said, if the bullet had hit a few meters further north, it could have penetrated her daughter’s room. Her daughter, she said, was not in her room at the time of the shooting.
The police investigation continued until Sunday afternoon. At around 1 p.m. the intersection of 4th and Davis remained closed and a black vehicle with a rear window that had been blown out several times was visible to passers-by.
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Justin Garcia is a public safety reporter for 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. Lucas Peerman is the news director for Sun News. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @LittleGuyInATie.