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Man accused of firing gun at woman, child and threatening to kill her if she testifies

Suspect allegedly wanted a romantic relationship with female victim

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • John Harding, 44, is accused of third-degree felony counts of child abuse and bribery of a witness (threats — false testimony); fourth-degree felony counts of shooting at or from a motor vehicle, aggravated assault and a petty misdemeanor of criminal damage to property in two separate cases.
  • The victim in the shooting case contacted law enforcement on June 26, stating she received a threatening message from a number she was not familiar with.
  • The San Juan County District Attorney's Office filed a motion to hold Harding at the county jail without bond while he awaits trial.

FARMINGTON — A Flora Vista man is accused of firing a handgun into a vehicle carrying a woman and her 12-year-old son, and threatening to kill her if she testifies against him after she refused a romantic relationship with the suspect.

John Harding, 44, is accused of third-degree felony counts of child abuse and bribery of a witness (threats — false testimony); fourth-degree felony counts of shooting at or from a motor vehicle, aggravated assault and a petty misdemeanor of criminal damage to property in two separate cases, according to court documents.

Shellie Patscheck, Harding's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

John Harding

Harding allegedly shot at former caregiver

A San Juan County Sheriff's Office detective was contacted around 7 a.m. on June 23 about a shooting that occurred around 10:29 p.m. on June 22 in the area of County Road 6675 and County Road 6670.

The woman told police she was Harding's former caregiver, and she had to quit after the suspect wanted a romantic relationship with her.

Harding allegedly harassed her through text messages, and the woman believes he slashed her tire while she was at a local hotel.

On the night of the shooting, she said she saw Harding watch her son go into a Kirtland gas station to make a purchase and return to their vehicle, according to court documents.

Harding allegedly followed her from the gas station as she drove to her residence.

She told police Harding pulled his vehicle in front of her to block the road.

She heard four gunshots, then drove away from the scene. One of the shots broke the back window of the vehicle she was driving. No one was hurt.

Four shell casings for a "32-caliber handgun" were found at the scene, according to court documents. The bullet that allegedly struck the back window was not recovered.

Police did not find a firearm while executing a search warrant at Harding's residence.

Harding claimed to not know anything when police asked about the shooting and declined to speak further to police.

Text messages allegedly show Harding threatening woman 

The victim in the shooting case contacted law enforcement on June 26 — days after the alleged incident — stating she received a threatening message from a number she was not familiar with.

The message stated if she showed up for court, she would be dead, according to the affidavit. The text message was in response to the woman possibly testifying in the alleged shooting case.

The expletive-filled message told her it was her only warning and that she would be smart to let it go.

A search warrant was obtained for cell phones at the residence Harding was staying at after being released from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on June 24.

A woman at the residence tried to walk out of the residence with two phones after Harding was detained in a patrol vehicle.

A detective called the number from which the threatening text message was sent, and one of the phones the woman was holding started to vibrate.

She was arrested on an arrest warrant in an unrelated case.

When asked about the text message, Harding told law enforcement officials he was being set up. But when asked who would set him up, he did not have an answer.

The San Juan County District Attorney's Office filed a motion to hold Harding at the county jail without bond while he awaits trial.

District Judge Curtis Gurley has not ruled on the motion following a July 6 hearing in Aztec District Court.

Harding has been incarcerated at the county jail since June 29.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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