Brandon Alexander
Brandon Alexander (Courtesy of San Juan County Adult Detention Center)

KIRTLAND — A 36-year-old man was charged last week for allegedly threatening two officers with a fake semi-automatic rifle.

Officers were dispatched to Brandon Alexander's house in Kirtland after receiving reports he was threatening to kill his sons so he could become a "skin-walker."

Alexander was charged July 21 in Aztec Magistrate Court with two counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, child abuse and several misdemeanors.

According to the criminal complaint, San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies Nicholas Duncan and Michael Wells were dispatched at 3:30 a.m. July 18 to Unit 7 on County Road 6317 in reference to a domestic dispute.

Alexander, who was armed with what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle, met the deputies outside his home, according to the complaint. The deputies ordered Alexander to drop the weapon, but he did not comply.

"He then raised the rifle, pointed it in our direction and challenged us to shoot him," the complaint states.

The deputies retreated to a position of cover, and Alexander eventually went back into his home. He later exited with his hands empty and in the air. When deputies tried to arrest him, however, he ran back into the house. Police were eventually able to wrestle Alexander to the ground and handcuff him, the complaint states.

The rifle was later identified as a pellet gun, the complaint states.

Alexander's sons, ages 18 and 16, told police their father was heavily intoxicated and told them he wanted to become a "skin-walker." He said you have to kill the ones you love to become one, and tried to egg his oldest son into punching him in the face. The boy instead called police, the complaint states.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien commended deputies Duncan and Wells for showing restraint and not shooting at Alexander when they were threatened with the fake rifle.

"That one could have gone really bad," he said. "In this case, it was a lot of restraint and experience that was used to avoid a tragic situation."

Capt. Brice Current said Duncan knew before going to the scene that Alexander had threatened law enforcement with fake weapons in the past, and that's part of why he chose not to use deadly force.

"Even though deadly force was justified ... they did not use it. I would not advise any citizens to display a weapon to a cop," Current said.

Alexander appeared in court Thursday for a preliminary examination. Defense Attorney Bradford Kerwin requested Alexander's bail be reduced, but Judge Trudy Reed-Chase denied the request, citing the seriousness of the allegations.

Kerwin said at the hearing he was working with prosecutors on a plea bargain for Alexander.

No future court date has yet been set in the case.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.