Aztec bank robbery suspect taken into custody
FARMINGTON — A suspect who allegedly robbed an Aztec bank Thursday and led police on a high-speed chase to Colorado is in custody.
FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said a male suspect, whose identity has not been released, was apprehended in La Plata County, Colo., following the robbery Thursday and was interviewed by the FBI.
Police were dispatched at 2 p.m. Thursday to the Four Corners Community Bank at 1301 W. Aztec Blvd. in response to the robbery, Fisher said.
The suspect left the bank and led police on a high-speed chase toward the Colorado border, according to Lt. Joe Gonzales of the Aztec Police Department. He said the suspect drove northwest on North Lightplant Road/N.M. Highway 574 and merged onto N.M. Highway 170. From there, the suspect drove north on La Plata Highway toward the New Mexico/Colorado state line.
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office and New Mexico State Police led the pursuit, according to Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. The sheriff's office helicopter helped in the search.
Lincoln said the chase continued onto Colorado Highway 140. The suspect stopped his vehicle near mile marker 21 on the highway to avoid driving over stop sticks deployed by the La Plata County Sheriff's Office and was taken into custody at 2:42 p.m.
Gonzales said C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec was briefly placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon after the suspect vehicle was spotted near the school.
The Four Corners Community Bank was closed the rest of the day Thursday following the robbery, according to bank president Sheila Mathews. She said her employees handled the robbery remarkably well and provided helpful information regarding the description of the suspect and his vehicle.
Mathews did not recall the last time the bank had been robbed, but The Daily Times reported the bank was robbed on Oct. 9, 2015. A female suspect entered the bank at 11:47 a.m. and left with an undisclosed amount of money after handing a teller a note. She was described as Hispanic woman about 5 feet tall, 40 to 45 years old with a medium build.
The suspect in that robbery remains at large.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.