ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque police arrested a man they say stabbed a Whataburger employee before barricading himself inside the restaurant Tuesday morning.
Police say around 8 a.m., Tracy Parks, 31, approached an employee in the Whataburger parking lot who was carrying a bag of cash from the restaurant out into the nearby parking lot. According to a criminal complaint, the employee was carrying the case with the intention of depositing it in a local bank for deposit.
However, the employee didn’t make it to his car. Police say Parks stabbed the employee in the neck before the two scuffled on the ground and another employee intervened in the fight. “The victim was stabbed by the suspect with a knife and he was slashed in his neck,” APD Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Armijo said.
As the two Whataburger employees and Parks scuffled, police believe Parks grabbed a box cutter from the injured employee’s pocket, then started chasing both of the employees around the parking lot.
Police say Parks eventually ran inside the restaurant and barricaded himself in the restroom. A witness told KRQE News 13 that he saw that struggle as he drove to work. “One of the employees got stabbed right here in back of the ear and I just pulled in to see if anybody needed help or make sure everybody was OK,” David Chavez said.
Albuquerque Police and the SWAT team tried communicating with the man and used flash-bang grenades to try to coax him out of the restaurant over the course of about three hours. Police were able to bring Parks out of the building and into custody around 11:30 a.m. “Everything we did today, it’s exactly in line with dealing with someone who, in a volatile situation, who may not really have the faculty to communicate well, and we’re dealing with potential other issues,” Armijo said.
A witness who was working inside the nearby Fill Up gas station at the corner of Fourth Street and Menaul said the man tried to rob the store. She said she pulled out mace and kicked him out. The Albuquerque Police Department said they are still working to confirm those details as part of the ongoing investigation.
According to online records, Parks has a long criminal history. In the past, he’s pleaded guilty before to armed robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for cases stemming from 2007 and 2011.
Parks, who is thought to be homeless, has also been arrested by APD at least twice since 2018. In March 2018, Parks is accused of throwing himself on to the hood of a woman’s car, then damaging the hood before leaving the scene. He was charged with criminal damage to property in that case.
In December 2018, Parks was arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct for his behavior at the city’s Westside Homeless Shelter. Both of Parks’ most recent criminal cases were dropped though, as judges found Parks mentally incompetent and unable to stand trial.
Parks is expected to be booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center Tuesday night. Parks now faces charges of attempt to commit a second-degree felony; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon or great bodily harm; and aggravated assault with a weapon. Police say the employee who was stabbed in the neck is expected to recover.