Farmington police shoot, kill suspect Saturday afternoon near E. 20th Street

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – A man police sought in connection with felony warrants was shot and killed by Farmington officers April 9 in a neighborhood off East 20th Street after he fled officers and aimed a gun at police, according to a statement by the Farmington Police Department.

The incident happened in the vicinity of Sage Drive on Yucca Avenue following a chase after the suspect allegedly fled from officers.

Police spokesperson Nicole Brown said the incident happened around 4:50 p.m. after police encountered the man while he was sitting in a vehicle parked in a lot near the 1700 block of East 20th Street. 

"The man was known to officers to be armed and was wanted for several felony charges," police said in a news release issued the  morning of April 10. When officers attempted to contact the man, he got out of the vehicle and ran southbound across 20th Street, carrying a firearm."

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe released a video statement Saturday evening on social media giving an overview of the chase and confrontation, and confirming that an attempt to detain a person with felony warrants resulted in gunfire and the suspect's death.

“Our officers spotted a subject who had felony warrants out for his arrest, they attempted to make contact with him, the suspect fled on foot,” Hebbe said in the video. “Officers reported that the suspect was holding a gun as they chased him. They eventually caught up with him in a neighborhood off of 20th… gunfire ensued and the suspect was killed, unfortunately. At this time that’s all the facts I can give you.”

Hebbe said police will not identify the person who was killed until their next of kin is notified.

The April 10 news release provided a few more details.

"The man refused to put the weapon down after several requests from the officers," the release stated. "He then moved the gun toward the officers, and two officers fired. Officers immediately rendered aid to the man and called for paramedics. He was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries."

Those officers were not identified. 

"The two officers are on administrative leave, which is the routine procedure of the Farmington Police Department," the April 10 news release said.

Traffic was shut down on East 20th Street in both directions for hours during the investigation. Police issued an initial warning for people to avoid the area at 5:21 p.m. via Twitter, and also posted traffic updates to the department’s Facebook page. 

Outside investigators were on the scene soon after the shooting.

“We have our countywide shoot team that’s on the scene right now,” Hebbe said in the video. "They've begun interviewing people."

The April 10 news release noted that the San Juan County Regional Officer Involved Shooting Task Force is made up of investigators from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police, and the Farmington, Aztec, and Bloomfield Police Departments.

"The task force works in a coordinated effort to thoroughly investigate officer involved shootings of San Juan County law enforcement agencies," Farmington police said in the April 10 news release.

Police on Saturday afternoon were canvassing for witnesses in the neighborhood where the shooting happened and in the area of the Defined Fitness, where the incident began.

Hebbe noted that this is the second time this year Farmington police were involved in a shooting, referring to the  Jan. 7 attack on Officer Joseph Barreto. Barreto was wounded, and returned fire, after a man he was attempting to detain opened fire on him without warning and at point plank range.

“I would also remind you this is only three months since the last time, where a subject with a gun in that case shot our officer, so this is happening way too frequently, ” Hebbe said toward the end of his video statement. “I’m very disappointed that we’re here again so soon. I’m relieved that our officers weren’t injured in the course of this. I’m disappointed that the suspect was.”

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked by police to call the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the incident, at 505-334-6107.

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com.

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