Published: 1:00 pm, Fri. Aug. 26th, 2016Updated: 2:41 pm
Two suspects are in custody today following a high-speed pursuit that made its way through Artesia before ending on U.S. 285.
Artesia Police Department Cmdr. Lindell Smith said the pursuit began at 2:44 p.m. Thursday. That’s when, according to Sgt. Matt Hutchinson of the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, ECSO deputies initially made contact with a vehicle they’d been on the lookout for just east of town.
“We received a credible anonymous tip in reference to a vehicle that was coming from the Lea County area to Artesia via East 82,” Hutchinson said today.
Included in the tip were a description of the vehicle and its license plate number, as well as a report that one of the individuals inside was wanted on felony warrants for “serious violent crimes.”
Deputies were stationed on the highway and spotted the vehicle. They were able to initiate a stop, Hutchinson said, but as they approached the vehicle, it sped off toward Artesia.
Deputies, with assistance from the APD and New Mexico State Police, pursued the vehicle north and south on Haldeman Road and into the city. The suspect vehicle continued at high speeds to run stoplights and signs, causing clear danger to motorists during an extremely busy time on the streets of Artesia: the end of the school day.
As such, and due to the fact the pursuit made its way through an area near Zia Intermediate School, the Artesia Public Schools were placed on lockdown at 2:52 p.m. until 3:24 p.m. when the pursuit ended. Parents were notified of the lockdown via the APS’ text alert system.
“All schools were locked down under the advisement of our School Resource Officers,” said Dr. Crit Caton, APS superintendent. “No incidents occurred, and no students were ever in danger. “We appreciate the Artesia Police Department, the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, and the New Mexico State Police for keeping our student population safe during this incident.”
The pursuit eventually made its way back out of city limits as the suspect vehicle headed toward Carlsbad on 285. Around the State Road 137 cutoff, Hutchinson said, several county vehicles were waiting with spike strips. They were spotted by the driver, who turned around and began heading back toward Artesia before finally making the decision to pull over.
Hutchinson said the driver, Casey Chambliss, 33, of Lea County, was arrested and charged with aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer.
According to court records, Chambliss arrived in Lea County in January 2014 as a fugitive from justice from Texas. He appeared in Lovington Magistrate Court on July 13 on charges of armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon, and again July 21 on charges of aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer and concealing a weapon.
A female passenger in the vehicle, whose name was not available, was arrested for probation violation.