Man killed by police allegedly wielded firearm at Shiprock gas station, led vehicle pursuit

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
San Juan County Sheriff's Office building is pictured on April 12, 2017 in Aztec.

FARMINGTON — The man shot and killed by a deputy Sunday was allegedly seen with a firearm at a Shiprock gas station. He then led law enforcement in a vehicle pursuit along U.S. Highway 64.

New details on the July 11 San Juan County Sheriff’s Office shooting were released by the agency on the night of July 14 in a news release.

Shawn Thomas, 36, of Albuquerque, died near Waterflow on the afternoon of July 11 after being shot by a deputy along a stretch of U.S. Highway 64, according to the news release and San Juan County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kristi Hughes.

The Navajo Police Department around 1:25 p.m. that day was notified of an armed subject with a gun at the Speedway gas station at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and U.S. Highway 491.

More:Law enforcement chase on U.S. Highway 64 leads to death of fleeing suspect near Waterflow

Thomas was allegedly wielding the firearm, then fled the scene in a blue Toyota passenger car.

Tribal police pursued Thomas eastbound on U.S. Highway 64 as he drove off the Navajo Nation and into the Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction.

Deputies intercepted the vehicle and deployed stop sticks, which deflated two tires.

The Toyota then drove into oncoming traffic in the westbound lanes and came to a stop around the 33- and 34-mile markers.

“As SJCSO deputies approached the vehicle, actions were made by the suspect which resulted in shots being fired by a deputy,” the news release states.

The release did not list how many shots were fired, nor how many struck Thomas, and did not describe what Thomas’ actions were that led to the shooting.

The car started to move again after the shooting, then crashed into a tree and caught on fire. Thomas was extracted by deputies who provided medical aid.

Thomas died at the scene due to his injuries. There were no other injuries reported due to the incident.

The deputy who shot and killed Thomas is on administrative leave.

“All critical incidents where a deputy is involved are thoroughly investigated and meticulously scrutinized for law and policy compliance,” San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari said in the press release.

Hughes told the Daily Times the agency is working to obtain additional information and evidence from Navajo police about the incident at the gas station.  

The San Juan County Regional Officer Involved Shooting Task Force is handling the investigation.

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.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e