ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) - Yet another New Mexico law officer has been involved in a shooting, this time a Roswell police sergeant released from a hospital Tuesday after a gunfight the night before.
The other party to the shooting, Richard Johnson, 35, is in critical condition at a hospital in Lubbock, Texas.
Sgt. Cruz Zavala, hit in the chest in the exchange of gunfire, became the seventh officers shot in the last week. The bullet struck Zavala in his protective body armor.
"We choose to do this job, and that's what we pride ourselves in protecting and taking care of the community," said Sgt. Jim Preston of the Roswell Police Department.
Roswell police say officers responded to a welfare check around 9:30 p.m. Monday at the Town Plaza apartments.
New Mexico State Police said Johnson was reported to be acting out of the ordinary and making suicidal threats. That's when police say Johnson fired several rounds at officers and was hit by return fire.
"My middle son's the one that heard it, and all of a sudden he came banging on the bathroom door saying, 'Mom. Mom. Someone's shooting a gun out there,'" said Janel Paton who lives nearby.
Police aren't yet saying exactly what led up to the exchange of gunfire.
"This is our job," said Preston. "We come to work everyday knowing that these things could happen."
This is the second time Zavala has been wounded in a gunfight.
In 2002, Zavala, then a rookie officer, was conducting a routine traffic stop that quickly turned into a foot chase.
That's when police say Bobby Ledesma, 18 at the time, turned around and opened fire on Zavala.
He was shot five times and suffered a gunshot wound to his face. Police say his left ring finger was also blown off by a bullet.
Roswell police, Chaves County sheriff's deputies and State Police are investigating the shooting.
All officers involved in the incident are now on standard leave.
On Oct. 22 near Roswell domestic-violence incident escalated ending in the suspect dead and a State Police officer wounded. Another Roswell police sergeant suffered critical injuries when a chain-reaction crash shoved a car into him while he was directing traffic.
Then on Thursday another State Police officer was shot in Española during a raid at an apartment that left a larceny suspect shot to death.
And on Saturday a gunman ambushed officers in Albuquerque ultimately wounding three city cops and a sheriff's deputy before he was killed at the end of a lengthy pursuit that spray bullets along the route. The deputy remains in critical condition.
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