State Police officer shot, suspect killed in Farmington
Deceased suspect identified as 26-year-old William Wilson
- The shooting took place at the Citizens Bank location at 4220 Hudson St.
- Dispatch received a call about the incident at 9:19 a.m. today.
- A witness told The Daily Times he heard seven to eight gunshots.
FARMINGTON — A New Mexico State Police officer was shot, and a suspect was killed during a shootout here this morning between the suspect, the State Police officer and a deputy for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.
William Wilson, 26, was killed by gunshots fired by officers around 9:30 a.m. today during a traffic stop at Citizens Bank at 4220 Hudson St., New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said in a press conference this afternoon.
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office and State Police presented the press conference at the Sheriff's Office headquarters in Aztec.
The names of the sheriff's deputy and the State Police officer have not been released, as the incident is still under investigation. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene.
The State Police officer was shot in his badge and his bulletproof vest, Kassetas said. He was transported to the San Juan Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and released. His suffered some bruising, and shrapnel from the round hit his face, Kassetas said.
The incident unfolded after the female deputy initiated a traffic stop of a white pickup truck and pulled into the bank's parking lot, according to Kassetas.
A State Police officer heard the transmission on his radio and provided backup.
Kassetas said Wilson was in the process of being handcuffed by the State Police officer when Wilson retrieved a gun, believed to be a revolver, and fired one round into the officer's chest.
The officer responded by pulling out his handgun and firing shots at Wilson.
The deputy heard the gunshots and followed by pulling her handgun and also firing shots at Wilson, Kassetas said.
The number of shots fired by Wilson and the officers is unknown and still under investigation.
San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen said the vehicle and its three occupants were suspects in connection to a case of a stolen trailer and other cases of larceny and burglary. The driver of the truck and a female passenger were taken into custody and have not been identified.
The State Police officer has been placed on three days of administrative leave. When the three days are up, State Police will determine if they will extend his leave, Kassetas said.
A witness told The Daily Times he heard seven to eight gunshots. Nearby resident Robert Barr said he then saw a man with a red shirt lying in the parking lot of the bank and a State Police officer patting himself down before he sat down on the curb in the parking lot.
A white sheet covering Wilson's body was visible in the parking lot, though it was partially blocked by a State Police patrol vehicle.
Law enforcement personnel, including Farmington Police Department officers, helped close the area around the bank and part of Largo Street during the investigation.
During the press conference, both Christesen and Kassetas expressed relief that the officers were not severely injured or killed during the exchange of gunfire.
Christesen used the press conference to denounce the new rules issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court regarding pretrial detention and release of defendants, calling it a "catch-and-release" system that puts violent offenders back on the street.
The bail reform effort was part of a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November that allows judges to detain people without bond who might be dangerous to the public. It also allows judges to grant pretrial release to defendants who pose no flight risk or risk to the community.
"They are putting dangerous criminals back on the streets," Christesen said, using Wilson as an example. "As citizens of this state, county and the city of Farmington, they should be outraged this happened."
Wilson and the unidentified male suspect in custody were described by Christesen as two people with extensive and violent criminal histories.
"Our judges, lawmakers and all law enforcement and every citizen in this state needs to stop this nonsense of catch and release," Christesen said.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.