Serving the High Plains

Tucumcari man faces charges in shooting

A Tucumcari man faces eight felony criminal charges after he was accused of shooting at city police officers Thursday following an attempted traffic stop. Records show the man ordered the driver to keep evading police while children were inside the vehicle.

No one was hurt during the confrontation and subsequent arrest.

According to online court documents, Lawrence P. Rivas, 26, faces these felony charges:

• First-degree kidnapping;

• Abuse of a child not resulting in death or great bodily harm;

• Two counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon;

• Aggravated assault against a household member with a deadly weapon;

• Aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer;

• Receipt, transportation or possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon;

• Aggravated battery on a household member (third offense).

The kidnapping count is the most serious of the charges, which can lead to up to 18 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Magistrate Judge Noreen Hendrickson found probable cause for the charges.

According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant for Rivas filed by New Mexico State Police agent Kenneth Villareal, the primary investigator:

About 4 p.m. Thursday, Tucumcari police officers Justin Garcia and Santo Saenz on patrol saw Rivas near the Lowes Market grocery store in Tucumcari. Rivas, who was on probation, was wanted on an arrest warrant after being accused of cutting off his ankle monitor.

TPD officers saw Rivas get into the passenger side of a sport-utility vehicle driven by a woman. As officers tried to initiate a traffic stop on West Tucumcari Boulevard, the driver tried to evade them by turning onto different streets.

The affidavit stated the driver of the vehicle later said during a police interview she had two small children in the vehicle and was "terrified" of Rivas, who initially would not let her stop for police.

The vehicle pursuit ended when the Lincoln stopped in the 500 block of South Sixth Street.

"Mr. Rivas exited the front passenger side and dropped what appeared to be a small black handgun," the affidavit stated. "Mr. Rivas then brandished another handgun and fired at least one shot at Officer Garcia and Officer Saenz while running" between two residences.

Garcia and Saenz returned fire several times, striking the side of a residence in that block.

The affidavit stated:

• Rivas and the officers were not struck by any of the bullets. Rivas continued to run, jumped over a backyard fence, ran through an alley and ran to the corner of another residence in the 500 block of South Fifth Street.

• He doubled back through an alley and jumped into a backyard in the 500 block of South Sixth Street, where he laid on the ground and surrendered.

The affidavit stated the gun Rivas used to fire at the officers was not found on him. Tucumcari Police and Quay County sheriff's deputies conducted a walk-through of the area where Rivas fled. A deputy found a Springfield handgun in an abandoned shed in the area several hours after the chase.

Officers also found a Ruger handgun and several empty shell casings near the area where the SUV stopped. Villareal wrote he saw a bullet hole in the rear reflector light of the vehicle and several bullet holes in the side of a house in that block, including one through a living room window.

• The woman later told officers she and Rivas had argued several days before, he had cut off his ankle monitor and damaged her home's interior. She said she always had been afraid of Rivas and that he verbally and physically abused her.

• The next day, Rivas arrived at her residence to apologize, but she said he suddenly became angry again, physically abused her and broke her cellphone.

• On the day of the confrontation with officers, Rivas yelled at her, punched her chest, slapped her face, grabbed her arms and injured one of her legs. She stated she was hit so hard, she fell back and hit the back of her head. She said one of her children tried to shield her from him.

• The woman said Rivas forced her to get into her vehicle and drive around town. At a red traffic light on First Street, Rivas left the SUV and tried to get into another car. He noticed a Tucumcari police vehicle behind them and got back in the SUV.

At one point, she said he told her, "Drive; I swear to God if you don't drive, I'm gonna shoot this whole car up" and placed his hand on the handguns he was carrying.

• When the Tucumcari patrol car activated its lights for a traffic stop, Rivas told her, "Are you stupid ... drive, drive." When she said she had children in the vehicle, he said, "Drive or else I'm gonna start doing stupid sh--." She said she continued to evade police because she feared what Rivas might do. She said the children began to cry and were terrified.

In the 500 block of South Sixth Street, she stopped the vehicle and told Rivas she couldn't keep driving anymore and told him to get out of the vehicle.

• The woman said she saw Rivas drop a small handgun he was carrying as he ran away. She said as she reached into the rear of the stopped vehicle for her children, she heard gunshots.

• Villareal said Rivas was interviewed at the state police office in Tucumcari. Near the end of the interview, Rivas admitted to carrying two handguns, one of which he fired at police to avoid being captured. Rivas also admitted to striking the woman.

Rivas was booked into the Quay County Detention Center in Tucumcari. He still was in custody as of Monday morning and was scheduled to have his first magistrate court appearance that afternoon.

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