One dead in officer-involved shooting near Flora Vista

Hannah Grover
The Daily Times

FLORA VISTA — One man was dead after an officer-involved shooting Friday evening east of Flora Vista.

A New Mexico State Police officer fatally shot a male suspect, said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas in a press conference just after midnight Saturday.

Police initially responded at 5:15 p.m. to a report of shots being fired near unit No. 12 County Road 3267, according to police dispatchers.

Kassetas said deputies with the San Juan County Sheriff's Office received a call about an individual in Spencerville, an area between Flora Vista and Aztec. The chief said the man was threatening residents with a rifle and had fired shots.

Two New Mexico State Police officers responded to the call, along with sheriff's office deputies.

Once at the scene, officers heard screaming and shots, Kassetas said. They encountered a suspect, he said, and then a state police officer discharged his weapson.

Police did not release the name of the victim nor the officer involved in the shooting. No arrests were made in the shooting, as of Saturday.

Kassetas said the police are still investigating the incident leading up to the shooting.

Neighborhood resident Darlene Tso said she arrived Friday at her house on County Road 3267 to find three police officers inside who escorted her out at gunpoint and told her to wait at the intersection of N.M. Highway 516.

She said she waited beside the road for hours, even after neighbors told her it was her son who had been shot.

Later in the evening, police set up a perimeter along N.M. Highway 516, blocking several roads into the area.

As police responded to the scene, a few neighbors gathered in a dirt parking lot off the highway to wait for news. Several said they heard shots fired earlier this evening but thought it was firecrackers.

Nearby residents received alerts twice through the emergency notification system instructing them to stay inside and keep their doors locked. The first alert went to 356 people and the second to 87 people, police dispatchers said. Both were sent at about 6:45 p.m.

According to police scanner traffic, when a call was first reported, the caller said a Native American man who was possibly intoxicated and dressed in camouflage had fired shots.

A helicopter was sent to search the area and circled for a couple of hours.

Tso watched Friday night as officers climbed onto her roof during the investigation.

She said she had been told to find some place to stay for the night.

"How can I go stay somewhere and be comfortable?" she said.

She added that she has animals at her house that she needed to take care of and hadn't been able to feed.

Hannah Grover covers news, art and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.