Suspect identified in Navajo officer’s death
PREWITT, N.M. – The man suspected of gunning down a tribal police officer on the nation’s largest American Indian reservation was found hiding on a ridge not far from his rural home in western New Mexico, according to local authorities.
The McKinley County Sheriff’s Office in a report obtained by the Navajo Times identified the suspect as Kirby Cleveland. He is in federal custody, but no charges have been filed.
The FBI has not commented about the suspect and its ongoing investigation.
The sheriff’s office was among the law enforcement agencies that responded early Sunday when Navajo Nation Officer Houston James Largo, 27, was shot on a county road after stopping a vehicle north of the community of Prewitt. Tribal authorities have said Largo was responding to the area in reference to a domestic violence call.
Authorities have yet to say what might have prompted the shooting.
Sheriff’s deputies reported that Largo was found lying about 50 yards from the vehicle with his duty pistol by his feet. He had been shot twice. His bullet-proof vest stopped one shot to his abdomen, but he suffered a gunshot wound to the forehead.
Largo was flown to an Albuquerque hospital, where he died later Sunday.
According to the sheriff’s office, a woman who came upon the scene used Largo’s radio to call for help.
When deputies arrived, the driver of the pickup truck that Largo had stopped was handcuffed to the steering wheel and the vehicle’s keys were found in the truck’s bed. The driver provided information to authorities about the suspect, including where he lived, but no one was as the home.
Authorities learned of a cave about one-third of a mile away so deputies and Navajo police searched the area once day broke and found Cleveland hiding on a ridge west of the cave.
Largo had been with the Navajo police force for nearly five years. He also was a volunteer firefighter for McKinley County.
Family and friends told Albuquerque television station KOAT that Largo was passionate about his job and had dedicated his life to helping others.
Largo and two colleagues were recognized last year for their heroics during a 2015 domestic dispute that prompted a police pursuit and ended with one Navajo officer being killed and two others wounded. Largo and another officer worked to save the life of one of their own during the gunfight.
Largo was from Thoreau, just west of where Sunday’s shooting occurred. He is survived by his mother, sister and two brothers.