SAN JUAN COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – San Juan County Sheriff’s deputies were looking for a suspect tied to a home invasion. But when they got to the suspect’s home, they found someone else who refused to come out. This led to a standoff and eventually, deputies shooting that man.
Deputies were looking for Johnny Maestas. According to a criminal complaint, the San Juan Sheriff’s Office believes Maestas stole a 76-year-old woman’s car after breaking into her Bloomfield home back on September 18.
The following day, the car was recovered. The person behind the wheel claimed someone named “Radar” gave it to him.
Then on September 22, deputies arrived at Maestas’s home. He’s not there, but someone else is. “This guy, Radar, his name is Abel Soto. He’s a felon,” a deputy says in a recently released lapel video.
Deputies obtained a search warrant and worked to get Abel Soto out of the house fo about an hour. Police video shows, after Soto leaves, he pulls out a knife. Deputies say he threatened them with it and that’s when they used bean bag rounds.
After deputies fired less-than-lethal rounds at Soto, investigators say Soto “lunged” at them. Video shows Soto hiding behind a large bag. Officers begin firing more bean bag rounds as Soto is seen getting up and walking.
The San Juan County sheriff says deputies feared for their lives when they opened fire with both less lethal and lethal force. Soto is shot in the side.
The sheriff’s office says two officers fired once. Meanwhile, bodycam footage shows one deputy firing three times.
Soto hasn’t been charged in connection to the home invasion. He’s facing charges of aggravated assault upon a peace officer based on this incident. News 13 reached out to the sheriff’s office to ask if the shooting followed policy but did not hear back.
Soto remains in jail on pre-trial detention for the aggravated assault charge. The other suspect deputies were looking for has since been arrested for the home invasion case.