By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
A paroled Tucumcari man was looking for a chance to serve the community but said he was denied that opportunity because of his past.
Anthony Gallegos said he applied and was denied a chance to be a volunteer firefighter for the City of Tucumcari.
Fire Chief Mike Cherry said Gallegos’ prison record had nothing to do with his being rejected by the department.
Gallegos, 43, has three years of fire fighting experience and is state certified.
However, Gallegos’ experience came from being a part of Chavez County’s District 8 Volunteer Fire Department at the Roswell Correctional Facility.
Gallegos was serving time at the state prison for the murder of Felix Gutierrez in 1998.
Gallegos said he believes his conviction of second-degree murder played a role in the Tucumcari department’s decision not to accept him.
While members of the Tucumcari Volunteer Fire Department vote on all new members, Gallegos conviction had nothing to do with his rejection, said Cherry.
“The guys told me at this time they did not want to add any new member to their department,” Cherry said.
Cherry said members train each new member on their own time. He said at this time they have several projects they are working on and most did not feel they had time to train any new member.
“Anthony seems like a great guy with a lot of wildfire experience,” Cherry said. “Many of the fires this department deals with… (are) structure fires. I told Anthony to apply at a different time.”
Gallegos said he wanted to make a positive impact in his community that is what drove him to try and join the department.
“I was a volunteer risking my life for others,” Gallegos said. “I want to be able to help out my home town.”
Gallegos’ former fire chief praised his work at the prison.
“He did his job well and the chief came to depend on him for the duties he was assigned,” said Georgianna Hunt, Chavez County fire service administrator.