Home News Local News State Police: Device that caused bomb scare was oxygen tank

State Police: Device that caused bomb scare was oxygen tank

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Vehicles from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office parked outside the front gate of the Chaves County Detention Center Monday afternoon following reports of a possible explosive device on the premises. The New Mexico State Police Bomb Squad along with the Sheriff’s Office and Roswell Police Department responded to the call. In a press release, State Police said the device was later found not to contain explosive materials. (Alex Ross Photo)

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The New Mexico State Police Bomb Squad has determined that a device that caused a bomb scare Monday at the Chaves County Detention Center was an oxygen tank.

“Bomb squad technicians conducted an X-ray of the device which did not contain any explosive materials. The device was identified as an SCVA tank/breathing apparatus,” Lt. Mark Soriano with the State Police Public Information and Media Relations division said in an email Tuesday.

He added that after the device was determined to be safe, control of the scene was transferred to the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office.

Vito Sosa (Submitted Photo)

Employees in the lobby had moved to the back of the facility to shield themselves from a potential blast, according to Undersheriff Charles Yslas. He added that inmates and staff at the facility were not in danger.

“The facility is built to basically withstand anything like that,” he said. One man, later identified as Vito Sosa, 37, of Roswell, was arrested in connection with the incident a short distance from the facility.

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Yslas explained that at about 2:33 p.m. Monday, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from Detention Center Administrator Daniel Ornales about a possible explosive device brought into the Detention Center’s front lobby.

Sosa had reportedly pulled up to the Detention Center in a white pickup and hauled the large tank into the lobby, where he placed it on a chair and then allegedly made comments about the building exploding. He then exited the facility before coming back with some orange construction gating, which he placed next to the lobby door before then leaving.

When deputies arrived, Yslas said, Sosa got back into the pickup and pulled out, heading north on Atkinson Avenue.

Court records filed Tuesday in Chaves County Magistrate Court state that Sosa then reportedly turned east, driving into a field located just north of the Detention Center.

He then allegedly stopped and emerged from his vehicle before he was approached by deputies and ordered to stop. According to court records, Sosa then walked back to the pickup and tried to get back inside, but deputies prevented him from doing so.

Sosa initially refused to disclose his identity. It was subsequently discovered he had a revoked license with an arrest clause.

After being questioned, Sosa was booked at the Detention Center and charged with resisting, evading an officer; and driving while license revoked.

Electronic court records state that Sosa on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to both counts when he appeared in Chaves County Magistrate Court Tuesday.

At the hearing, Judge E.J. Fouratt set bond for Sosa at $5,000 cash or surety.

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

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