ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - What started as a chase to arrest a suspect in Albuquerque quickly turned into a rescue mission to save the suspect's life.
A man is in the hospital Monday after police believe he shoplifted and fell into an arroyo while running from officers Sunday night.
Just before 10 p.m. on Sunday night, Albuquerque police officers responded to the Kmart on Carlisle near I-40 after a report of shoplifting.
But the loss prevention officer there pointed to the arroyo where 32-year-old suspect, Fernando Garcia, ran.
There is a small stream running through the arroyo Monday, but that wasn't the case Sunday when rain soaked the metro, and Garcia slipped and fell in.
“We had heavy rainfall that basically created a very dangerous situation in our arroyos with the swiftly-moving water, so the man was unable to stop himself from being swept down the arroyo,” said Tasia Martinez, spokesperson for the Albuquerque Police Department.
The chase for an arrest became a chase to save a life.
Officers followed alongside the rushing water of the arroyo as it swept Garcia away for about a half a mile.
“[Garcia] was able to grab on to some debris and hang on for a bit,” Martinez said. “So one of the officers was able to run into a nearby hotel swimming pool and grab their flotation device and race back and get it down to the man.”
But after Garcia was halfway up, he threatened to jump back in and commit suicide just to avoid going to jail.
It is a place he has been before.
Online records show police arrested Garcia in 2000 for receiving or transferring a stolen car, then again in 2003 for armed robbery with a deadly weapon and in 2009 for auto theft, a charge that was dismissed.
Court records show Garcia also has a pending case from last year for battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest.
Officers eventually talked Garcia out of jumping, pulled him to safety and took him to UNM Hospital.
“You really don't know what you're going into when you receive a call for service,” Martinez said.
Police say Garcia is still at the hospital so he has not been booked yet, but he will be charged with misdemeanor shoplifting and criminal damage to property once he is released.
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