ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Six deputies fired their weapons, killing a suspect in a stolen car after he drove away from deputies and crashed into two other cars in September. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office released new information and video in the case during a news conference Monday, detailing how it unfolded after deputies woke the suspect up in a parked car at a gas pump.
The shooting resulted in the death of Colby Atkins, 45. Police video released Monday shows deputies opened fire after Atkins was seen pointing an object that was later determined to be a flashlight. On video, one deputy can be heard shouting “he’s got a gun” before the six deputies opened fire at Atkins.
The incident started last month on a Tuesday afternoon, on September 20, 2022 at the Speedway gas station on the corner of 2nd and Rio Bravo. A nearby deputy who was responding to a crash was “flagged down” by a person who reported a driver passed out behind the wheel of a car parked at a gas pump. Four deputies arrived at the gas station around 1:22 p.m.
“They make an attempt to pre-emptively immobilize the vehicle there at the gas station,” Chief Deputy Nicholas Huffmyer said during Monday’s news conference, referencing officers surrounding the vehicle with deputy patrol rigs. “More and more we’re seeing that when they these individuals wake up from being passed out, and the first thing they encounter is a law enforcement presence, there seems to be this inclination to flee immediately.”
Within roughly two minutes of police attempting to wake Atkins up, police dash camera video shows Atkins drive off from the gas station, squeezing past three deputy vehicles. Investigators say he drove west on Rio Bravo, then south of Isleta Boulevard.
Referencing video of Atkins driving away from the gas station, Huffmyer described Atkins as running a red light and hitting two cars while driving down Isleta. “You can see how dangerous one of these incidents gets very quickly when this individual is going to whatever lengths he feels are necessary to go around these vehicles, and that includes passing them on the right, going up on to the sidewalk.”
**Editor’s Note: The above video lists BCSO’s Nicholas Huffmyer with the rank of Captain, a previous rank Huffmyer held. His current title is now “Chief Deputy.”
Within roughly three minutes of Atkins driving away from the gas station, BCSO says Atkins crashed his vehicle into two other cars, eventually disabling his vehicle near the intersection of Isleta and Camino Del Valle. Between 1:26 p.m. and 1:35 p.m., investigators say Atkins got in and out of the car multiple times and refused to follow officers instructions.
Over that roughly ten minute window, BCSO says officers tried to knock out the car windows with beanbag rounds. However a tinting on the window left the glass mostly in place.
Officers opened fire at Atkins moments after he pointed “a black object” at a nearby car at least twice. The nearby car had at least one person in it. Deputies were between 20 and 33 yards from Atkins when he pointed the object.
“He [points the object] in a manner that is highly consistent with the way that we’re trained on a daily basis to adopt a shooting platform,” Huffmyer said. “The first thing he does is he reaches over with his right hand, does it one handed, and points toward the van, that’s the first motion, then he comes up with both hands in a very clear shooting platform.”
Atkins was killed at the scene. BCSO says investigators believe the the black object was a flashlight, which was recovered at the scene. Deputies also found fentanyl, heroin, a “variety of credit cards” and pieces of ID.
While the car was stolen, it’s unclear at exactly what point deputies learned that information. Huffmyer said Monday that an Army Corps license plate was added to the vehicle, along with a military related sticker on the gas door.
“The owner of the vehicle indicated to us that neither one of those things were on the vehicle when it was stolen,” Huffmyer said. “We don’t know if that is some kind of a ruse that the suspect used, adorning the vehicle with various patriotic things, a patriot plate, a veteran plate, in an effort to reduce the likelihood that they might be stopped by law enforcement, that is a possibility.”
It remains unclear is Atkins was intoxicated as the event unfolded. A toxicology report is still pending.
BCSO says Sgt. Luke Edwards, Deputy Richard Boyle, Deputy Derek Gallegos, Deputy Deanna Aragon, Deputy Jose Corona and Deputy Dominic Szabo all fired their weapons. Each of the deputies is said to be back on the job, with one last remaining deputy returning to work this week, according to Huffmyer.