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A half-hour chase over the highways of western Lincoln County ended with the arrest Thursday of a Los Lunas man on 11 charges and three outstanding warrants, Sheriff Robert Shepperd said.

One police officer from Carrizozo received minor injuries when she was forced to leap over a guard rail to avoid being hit by the driver, the sheriff said Friday. Speeds were clocked from 55 to 95 miles per hour, he said.

Christopher Lance Johnson, 46, was charged with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against police officers, DWI-4th offense, a felony count of aggravated fleeing, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was booked Thursday at the Lincoln County Detention Center and Shepperd said officers with the multiple agencies involved spent a good part of Thursday preparing reports while he gathered background on the suspect.

"He has a lengthy criminal history and we're trying to run down as much of his background as we can, because he's a danger to the community and we don't want him out," Shepperd said. "He was charged with murder in another state, but we don't know the disposition of that case."

Chase begins

About 12:25 p.m., an inspector for the New Mexico Livestock Board called dispatch to report a possible drunk driver in a white Ford van on U.S. 380.

"He attempted to stop the vehicle, but the vehicle fled from him," Shepperd said.

The inspector did not pursue, but by then two deputies arrived and the driver tried to ram one of the units, Shepperd said.

"They pursued him toward Socorro and he got maybe a mile or two past the Lincoln County line and made a U-turn and started back toward Carrizozo," the sheriff said. "I had one of the Carrizozo officers deploy her stop sticks and he swerved toward her where she had to dive over the guardrail to keep from being hit by the vehicle. He missed those."

A sergeant and another deputy were posted at the Carrizozo town limits. They deployed two more set of spike strips.

Officers nearly hit

"He swerved and got within maybe 8 inches of my sergeant and tried to hit him," Shepperd said. "We pursued him through Carrizozo and back toward Capitan. He tried to ram my vehicle twice. We were able to get him routed up (New Mexico) Highway 37, where we had another unit and Forest Service unit deploy stop sticks.

"He hit those, which deflated both front tires of the van. About a half mile later, he stopped and he gave up after that without a fight and we took him into custody."

Officers found out that Johnson was wanted on three active warrants and was driving with a revoked license. The address on the invalid license was Los Lunas.

"He had wrecked in the Lincoln cemetery about a month or two ago and left the scene, and that was one of the warrants," Shepperd said. "Two others were for failure to appear."

Officers found prescription pain pills in the vehicle along with three open bottles of vodka, Shepperd said.

"Including the three outstanding warrants, there was a total of 14 charges," he said.

All six sheriff's deputies on duty responded to the incident, along with officers from the New Mexico State Police, U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Carrizozo.

Capitan police were on stand-by in case the driver headed there. The Carrizozo officer was taken to Gerald Champion Hospital in Alamogordo, was treated and released.

Reporter Dianne Stallings can be contacted at dstallings@ruidosonews.

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