A New Mexico man is behind bars after he opened fire on a Chaves County deputy at a rest stop west of Tatum Wednesday.
The Lea County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the capture of the man. No one was injured in the incident.
The shootout took place near the Waldrop Rest Area on U.S. Hwy. 380, about 30 miles west of Tatum, and about 7 miles west of the Chaves/Lea County border.
The incident involved two Chaves County Sheriff’s Office deputies around 5:15 p.m. when they responded to a suspicious subject near the Waldrop Rest Area. After a brief search, one of the deputies located a man on foot about one mile west of the rest stop in an area the deputy previously searched. The subject, later identified as 40-year-old Chadwick Taylor of Conchas Dam, N.M., was contacted by the deputy, But Taylor refused to speak.
According to the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, Taylor then produced a handgun and began firing at the deputy, who used his vehicle as a shield. As the deputy returned fire, Taylor ran south into the Mescalero Sand Dunes. That is when the second deputy arrived at the scene.
Additional Chaves and Lea County deputies state police personnel arrived to assist in closing Highway 380 and starting a search. Lea County Sheriff Byron Wester said Lea deputies helped secure the Eastern boundary of the road closure, while also offering SWAT and the department’s airplane.
“We offered our (airplane) so that we could search from the air,” Wester said. “With those sand dunes the way they are, you could be searching for someone and come upon them rather quickly. That doesn’t offer much security for law enforcement, so searching from the air was available.”
Wester said neither the plane, nor the SWAT team was needed as Taylor was located around 8 p.m. and apprehended without incident. He was transported to Roswell for booking at the Chaves County Detention Center and charged with one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting/evading a police officer.
Chaves County Sheriff Britt Snyder said his department handed the investigation over to state police officials, which continued to have the area closed until its investigations bureau conducted its scene processing and collection of evidence.
“We had about 10 of our guys at the scene assisting in the incident,” Wester said. “I think the whole thing finished around 9 p.m.”
Snyder stated that he was happy that the deputy involved in the shooting was not injured.
“We will not release any other information at this time and I will refer to the New Mexico State Police as to any pending charges against the subject involved,” Snyder stated.
NMSP Public Information Officer Carl Christiansen stated that name of the deputy involved in the shooting would not be release while the investigation is still active.
Wester said this type of assistance between agencies is normal. Depending on the location, there have been instances where law enforcement from one agency would respond faster than those from the involved agency.
“Given the large, open area of our counties, it’s not uncommon for us to be closer to an incident involving another county agency,” Wester said. “If we are closer, we are going to cross the county line and help them out. We’re still certified officers to be within the state, so we are covered under that and it allows us to help out with mutual aid. We’re just all happy that the incident didn’t have any injuries.”