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Man who led deputies on chase identified

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Pursuit through Roswell ended with man taking his own life

The Chaves County Sheriff’s Office has released the name of a man who led deputies on a high speed chase Tuesday night before ultimately taking his own life.

Charles Yslas, chief deputy with the Sheriff’s Office, said the man was identified by deputies as Lionel Franco, 20, of Loving.

Further details about what prompted Franco to flee deputies during a traffic stop, and why he shot himself, are not yet known.

“To our understanding the investigation is still ongoing. I am still try to put the puzzle pieces together as to why he fled,” Yslas said Wednesday.

Deputies conducted a traffic stop at 8:12 p.m. on a portion of the Relief Route near West Second Street, for an unspecified traffic violation. Sheriff Mike Herrington said Tuesday that after a few minutes, Franco refused to provide deputies with his information.

When a deputy was preparing to place handcuffs on him, Franco jerked away, got into his pickup and sped off. One deputy was knocked to the ground by the pickup as it sped off, but according to Herrington was not injured.

Franco’s escape initiated a pursuit by deputies, who following him onto West Second Street. When the pursuit reached Sunset Avenue, stop sticks were deployed, which flattened the tires on Franco’s truck, Herrington said.

Despite the flat tires, Franco continued driving, eventually reaching the 1900 block of Southeast Main Street. Deputies then attempted to force Franco to stop by executing PIT — pursuit intervention technique — maneuvers, but he instead drove into a nearby field.

A post on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page Wednesday stated that after the pickup came to a halt in the field, they discovered the driver had committed suicide using a handgun.

The driver was then removed from the pickup, with deputies administering CPR on Franco, according to the post.

Fire Department personnel then arrived at the scene, where Franco was pronounced dead.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.