Driver shoots himself during traffic stop

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate an incident in which a man suspected of drunken driving shot himself and pointed the gun at a deputy during a traffic stop on Saturday evening.

Authorities said the man was being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The man, whose name has not been released, was pulled over by a deputy near East Main Street and Country Club Drive in Farmington at about 7 p.m. Saturday after the officer noticed the man had been driving erratically, sheriff's office Capt. Brice Current said Saturday.

When the deputy approached the vehicle, he noticed the man had shot himself in the face, sheriff's office detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln said Sunday. The officer called for paramedics, and the man then picked up the gun and pointed it at the deputy, Lincoln said.

The deputy told the man to drop the weapon, and the man complied, Lincoln said.

Lincoln said the man shot himself in the chin and the bullet was lodged near one of his eyes.

The man was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center for treatment and then flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque with non-life threatening injuries, Lincoln said. He did not know the man's condition on Sunday.

Lincoln said the sheriff's office is not releasing the name of the 48-year-old man until formal charges are filed.

A press release from the sheriff's office states the deputy started following the man after observing a black pick-up truck driving westbound on N.M. Highway 516 in Flora Vista with its headlights off.

The driver did not stop when the deputy tried to pull him over, and the deputy followed the vehicle into Farmington, with assistance from the sheriff's office helicopter, Current said.

The man could face charges for driving while intoxicated and aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, according to the press release.

Lincoln said there were empty beer cans in the vehicle, and the man had the strong odor of alcohol on his breath.