The New Mexico State Police have recovered evidence from the man who allegedly instigated a shootout with police weeks ago to include .223 rifle casings, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, ammunition and “several thousands of dollars of U.S. currency.”
State police investigators said 30-year-old Jose Diaz, of Roswell, was taken into custody on federal charges Friday, with charges from the state still pending.
Diaz was struck once in the foot and again in the arm by police gunfire, and was later treated and released from a local hospital.
What originally began as a welfare check on Diaz, who was asleep at the wheel near the intersection of South Atkinson Avenue and East Poe Street on the morning of Sept. 24, escalated to an exchange of bullets and multiple chases.
A news release by NMSP public information officer Lt. Elizabeth Armijo on Tuesday listed the names of seven local police officers who exchanged gunfire with Diaz.
From the Roswell Police Department, 3-year veteran Randy Rodriguez, 4-year veteran Joel Smoyer, 2-month veteran Adrian Jimenez and 15-year veteran Sgt. Jeff Prince returned fire.
One-and-a-half-year veteran deputy Olivia Padilla and 10-year veteran Travis Hardy from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, along with 13-year veteran Sgt. James Mason, also returned fire at after he fled the original area in his vehicle.
“(Diaz led) officers on a pursuit to a residence on Old Dexter Highway, where he remained in his vehicle and refused to comply with orders to peacefully surrender,” Armijo said. “After a standoff lasting nearly three hours, Mr. Diaz then fled a second time, driving through properties as he fled.”
Armijo said as Diaz fled, deputy Padilla fired one round at Diaz due to officers and civilians being in the direct path of the fleeing vehicle.
“Officers pursued Mr. Diaz to U.S. Highway 380, where he turned north on Alamo Road,” Armijo explained. “He then turned east on Hachita Road which led to a gun range. Mr. Diaz then parked next to a dirt berm and retrieved a handgun and rifle.”
Armijo said as Diaz exited his vehicle, he positioned himself towards the top of the mound and began firing at officers and deputies. At the gun range, a concealed carry class had just dismissed, and officers and deputies took cover and returned fire.
“The instructor (at the gun range,) Charles Yslas, an off-duty New Mexico Military Institute Police Captain, fired a shotgun toward Mr. Diaz from an adjacent berm attempting to cover the officers so they could hide behind the berm,” Armijo said. “Mr. Diaz then reentered his vehicle and drove to the north side of the berm from which he was firing.
“He then drove past the deputies and officers returning in the direction of Hachita Road. Evidence later collected from Mr. Diaz’ vehicle indicated he may have been firing as he was fleeing. Mr. Diaz’ vehicle sustained multiple deflated tires from gunfire and finally came to a stop west of the deputies’ and officers’ location on the range.”
Armijo said as Diaz again fired several rounds from his rifle at law enforcement, deputies and officers also returned fire from their locations.
“Mr. Diaz was struck in the foot and arm by gunfire and then surrendered and was taken into custody by the officers. Mr. Diaz was transported to Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell for gunshot wounds and was later released and booked into the Chaves County Detention Center,” Armijo said. “The law enforcement officers involved in this incident who returned fire at the gun range were interviewed in the days following this incident.
“The officers expressed in interviews feeling in fear for their lives and the lives of others at the scene as they took cover from oncoming gunfire by Mr. Diaz.”
This incident remains under investigation by the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau.
State Police said at the conclusion of the investigation, the case will be forwarded to an assigned district attorney’s office for review.
Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.