Published: 8:23 pm, Mon. Oct. 2nd, 2017Updated: 8:07 pm
At approximately 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, Jose Diaz, 30, of Roswell, was found asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle, which was stopped in the roadway near the intersection of Atkinson and Poe streets in Roswell.
When law enforcement made contact with him, Diaz fled in his vehicle, leading officers to a residence on the Old Dexter Highway. There, he remained in his vehicle, refusing to comply with commands to exit.
After nearly three hours, Diaz fled again, this time driving through properties. At that time, Chaves County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Olivia Padilla fired one round at Diaz, due to the fact the lives of officers and civilians in the direct path of his fleeing vehicle were believed to be in jeopardy.
CCSO deputies and Roswell Police Department officers continued to pursue Diaz to U.S. 380, at which point he turned north on Alamo Road, then east on Hachita Road. Diaz then parked alongside a dirt berm, exited his vehicle with a handgun and rifle, positioned himself near the top of the berm, and began firing at law enforcement.
RPD officers and CCSO deputies took cover and returned fire.
At a nearby gun range, Charles Yslas, an off-duty New Mexico Military Institute police captain and instructor of a concealed-carry class that had just dismissed, noticed the situation and fired a shotgun toward Diaz from an adjacent berm in an attempt to cover the officers.
Diaz proceeded to reenter his vehicle and drive to the north side of the berm, then back down Hachita Road. The NMSP say evidence later collected from his vehicle indicates he may have also been firing as he was fleeing. Law enforcement was able to deflate Diaz’s tires with gunshots, and the vehicle finally came to a stop west of the deputies’ and officers’ location.
Diaz once again fired several rounds at police and, during return fire, was struck in the foot and arm. He subsequently surrendered and was taken into custody.
After being transported to Eastern New Mexico Medical Center for treatment of his wounds, Diaz was later booked into the Chaves County Detention Center. On Sept. 28, he was taken into custody on federal charges related to the investigation. State charges are still pending.
Evidence collected from Diaz’s vehicle included .223 rifle casings, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, ammunition, and several thousands of dollars.
The NMSP Investigations Bureau interviewed law enforcement involved in the shootout in the days following the incident. All officers and deputies expressed feeling fear for their lives and the lives of others during the incident.
Returning fire at Diaz during the shootout were: RPD officers Randy Rodriguez (three-year veteran), Joel Smoyer (four-year veteran) and Adrian Jimenez (two-month veteran), and Sgt. Jeff Prince (15-year veteran), and CCSO deputies Travis Hardy (10-year veteran) and Olivia Padilla (one-and-a-half-year veteran), and Sgt. James Mason (13-year veteran).
Following the NMSP’s investigation, the case will be forwarded to an assigned district attorney’s office for review.