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Sheriff's office investigating suspect in Kirtland school flooding
Suspect accused of stealing firearm from truck in Kirtland
AZTEC — A Kirtland man recently charged with aggravated burglary is believed to be one of the suspects allegedly involved in the flooding of Kirtland Elementary School.
Gaberiel Perez, 19, was charged on Nov. 7. He faces six charges, including a second-degree felony count of aggravated burglary and fourth-degree felony counts of larceny of a firearm and disposing of stolen property, according to the criminal complaint.
He is accused of stealing a handgun from a truck in the early morning of Sept. 9 from a residence on County Road 6480 on the north side of Kirtland, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
Tyson Quail, Perez's attorney, declined to comment on the case.
The affidavit states Perez admitted to detectives for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office during an interview on Oct. 19 that he took the firearm from the truck.
The interview occurred after Perez was arrested that day on accusations of being in possession of a handgun on the Kirtland Elementary School grounds, according to court documents.
He was charged with a fourth-degree felony count of unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school premises.
Perez confessed to detectives during the Oct. 19 interview to his involvement in the criminal damage to property case at Kirtland elementary along with "multiple" auto burglaries and an unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, per the affidavit.
Detectives believed boot prints found at the scenes of the Sept. 8 aggravated burglary case and the Kirtland Elementary criminal damage case were likely the boots Perez was wearing during the interview, according to court documents.
Following the interview, Perez is accused of using a lighter to burn the bottom of his boots in an interview room at the sheriff's office.
Detectives for the sheriff's office have been investigating a case in which suspects on or around Sept. 8 broke a water pipe on top of the Kirtland Elementary School building, which flooded parts of the school and caused more than $20,000 worth of damage, including to three classrooms, the cafeteria and an electrical room.
Perez has not been charged in relation to the damage to Kirtland Elementary School, and the investigation is ongoing, according to Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln.
Detectives are still trying to track down a second male suspect in connection with the case, Lincoln said.
It was during a hearing Wednesday afternoon in Aztec District Court that Det. Nima Babadi of the sheriff's office told District Judge John Dean Jr. that Perez is being investigated in relation to several cases.
The hearing was in response to a motion filed by the San Juan County District Attorney's Office to hold Perez without bond at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, according to court documents.
The judge ordered Perez be held without bond while awaiting trial in the aggravated burglary case.
Perez's preliminary hearing on the aggravated burglary case is scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday in Aztec Magistrate Court.
Anyone with information on the Kirtland Elementary School flooding case can contact the sheriff's office detective line at 505-330-7878 and ask for Babadi.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.