NMSP: Suspect in Santa Rosa officer-involved shooting threw device causing explosion

New Mexico News

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico State Police have released additional details regarding an officer-involved shooting in Santa Rosa on Monday. According to NMSP, the incident took place when NMSP Investigations Bureau agents were trying to serve an arrest warrant on 47-year-old Robert Lee Chavez.

Authorities say Chavez is the suspect in a case being investigated by State Police Investigations Bureau agents in which a John Deere compact tractor was stolen. During the initial stages of the investigation in February 2021, police say agents served a search warrant at Chavez’s residence and found a firearm inside.

Chavez was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and was released on bond. NMSP reports that agents completed their investigation on Chavez regarding the stolen tractor and an arrest warrant was issued for the charges of receiving stolen property, extortion, and bribery of a witness.

According to police, due to Chavez’s violent criminal history including aggravated assault against a police officer, battery, escape from custody, felon in possession of a firearm, criminal damage to property, and tampering with evidence, the NMSP Tactical Team was called to assist with the arrest warrant. Authorities say that before attempting to serve the warrant, agents made contact with Chavez through his probation officer asking him to turn himself in however, Chavez refused.

As officers approached his residence Chavez was reported to be observed inside. When officers asked him to surrender Chavez allegedly refused and started throwing what appeared to a large object or device outside at the officers which exploded.

Police officers also reported hearing an explosion in the residence. NMSP report that Chavez came out of a room holding another object or device in his hand and at this time, a NMSP Tactical Team officer fired at least one round from his department-issued rifle.

According to NMSP, Chavez then round out the back door of his residence and into an adjacent house, barricading himself in that residence. Police say commands were given to Chavez to exit the residence and he did and was taken into custody.

Authorities say officers performed aid to Chavez until medical personnel arrived. Chavez was transported to an area hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

NMSP report that the explosion Chavez set off in his house ignited a fire and the local fire department responded to the scene and contained the blaze. Following his release from the hospital, Chavez will be booked on his outstanding arrest warrant.

NMSP states the identity of the officer who fired his weapon will not be released until after interviews are complete and that officer is on standard administrative leave. This case is under investigation by the NMSP Investigations Bureau and will be given to the appropriate district attorney’s office for review following completion.

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