LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) – A northern New Mexico sheriff’s deputy accused of killing a fellow deputy fired several rounds from his semi-automatic weapon as his colleague tried to flee an alcohol-fueled argument at a hotel, police said Tuesday.
The shooting happened just after midnight at Hotel Encanto in the southern New Mexico city of Las Cruces, where the two Santa Fe County deputies had stopped to spend the night after transporting a prisoner to Safford, Arizona.
Jeremy Martin, 29, was pronounced dead at MountainView Regional Medical Center, and detectives were interviewing the other deputy, Tai Chan, 27.
Chan’s attorney, John Day, was on his way to Las Cruces on Tuesday and said details were limited.
“It’s a tragic situation for everybody involved,” the Santa Fe lawyer said.
Investigators with the Las Cruces Police Department were at the Hotel Encanto’s parking lot collecting evidence that appeared to be from a deputy’s vehicle. Hotel security staff prevented reporters from approaching the scene and ordered media off the property.
Investigators say the two deputies went to Dublin’s Street Pub where they drank and got into an argument, which escalated at the hotel.
As Martin tried to flee into an elevator, several rounds were fired that hit him in the back and arms, authorities said.
Police arrived at the hotel and found Martin staggering off the elevator with multiple wounds, Las Cruces police spokesman Dan Trujillo said.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia said his department was mourning.
“I have grief counselors or crisis counselors here now meeting with a lot of my personnel, but it’s a grieving law enforcement agency,” Garcia said.
He said Martin had been a deputy for 2 ½ years, and Chan was on the force for three years.
Martin, a patrol officer, was married and had three children, all under the age of 10, the sheriff’s office said.
At an emotional news conference, Garcia called both deputies “hardworking, committed individuals.”
“I’m lost,” Garcia said. “I’m at a loss for words.”