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ARTESIA — Two Artesia men were arrested last week for their roles in the armed robbery of a local convenience store. The men were quickly apprehended by local authorities despite one firing a gun at officers in pursuit.

Artesia Police Department officers were dispatched at 1 a.m. Dec.29, 2019, to the Allsup’s at 1910 W. Main St. in reference to an armed robbery. The reporting party advised police a male subject wearing a black hoodie and blue facemask had entered the store with a gun and taken everything out of the register while another male, also wearing a mask, waited outside.

The men were last seen heading south on 20th Street toward Grand Avenue, and law enforcement was able to spot the man in the black hoodie attempting to run through the apartment complex on the northeast corner of 20th and Grand. As officers began spotlighting him, the man fell and dropped a package.

According to the criminal complaint, the man – later identified as Jesus Diaz, 21, of Hagerman, got him, retrieved the package, and began running north. As officers attempted to head him off, shots were fired in the alleyway behind the apartments and Diaz continued east out of the alley.

In the meantime, an Eddy County Sheriff’s Office deputy had stopped a male subject wearing a white shirt and black pants, later identified as Michael Romero, 28, of Artesia, at the intersection of 19th Street and Grand Avenue. Romero was detained on an outstanding Artesia Magistrate Court warrant for fraud, and upon a search of his person, a black facemask was found in his front pocket.

The deputy also advised that, during the chase with Diaz in the alleyway, Diaz had turned to point his firearm at the deputy before firing, and the deputy noted the gun was silver in color.

Police continued to search the area and encountered a pair of witnesses, one of whom stated he had seen Diaz near the passenger door of his work truck when he went outside to investigate the sound of gunshots. The witness said Diaz ran down the alleyway that leads to 19th Street, and upon checking his truck, the witness found a gun and a stack of money inside and called 911.

One of the officers subsequently proceeded through the alleyway, and while opening a dumpster to check for potential discarded evidence, he instead found Diaz lying inside on top of the trash. According to the complaint, Diaz reached for his waistband, and the officers backed up, drawing his firearm. The officer stated he could see Diaz staring at him through the slit between the dumpster’s lids and ordered him to exit with his hands up.

Diaz complied and was taken into custody. No weapons were found on his person. A black hoodie and baseball cap were found in the dumpster.

According to the report, Diaz told police he was homeless and sleeping in the dumpster.

Police recovered a silver .357 Magnum revolver with three spent rounds in the work pickup, and it and the cash were entered into evidence. Further searching turned up a dark-blue bandana in the alley behind the home at which the truck was parked and a rolled-up black jacket containing a pair of gloves in another dumpster.

All of the clothing matched descriptions given by the cashier at Allsup’s and later viewed on surveillance video. According to the complaint, police observed a male subject with a black hoodie and baseball cap point a silver handgun at the cashier before reaching over the counter to grab cash out of the register.

The male waiting outside the store was observed to be wearing a black jacket.

Diaz was subsequently arrested on charges of armed robbery, aggravated burglary, resisting, evading or obstructing an officer, tampering with evidence, aggravated assault upon a peace officer with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Romero was arrested on the fraud warrant and charges of accessory to armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Diaz and Romero are both scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Jan. 15 before Judge Jimmy C. Foster in Artesia Magistrate Court for preliminary examination. Romero will also appear at that same time for a pre-trial hearing on the charge of fraud ($250 or less).