LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A man was shot and killed after he emerged from a large storm drain and exchanged gunfire with officers in Las Cruces, New Mexico, police said Tuesday.
Jose Salas, 29, of Las Cruces died of gunshot wounds in a ditch, ending a three-hour manhunt that began when police responded to a fight between two people.
Las Cruces Police Sgt. Roberto Gutierrez said the investigation was ongoing and as a result, the department was withholding the names of officers involved in the shooting.
Court records show Salas had previous run-ins with the law and pleaded no contest to resisting, evading and obstructing an officer, and to possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police said the standoff began after a man matching Salas’ description confronted officers who responded to the fight and then fled in a stolen pickup truck. Police said an officer fired at least one round at the man.
Officers with the U.S. Border Patrol, state police and Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Department helped with the search.
An officer later spotted a man running into the storm drain near a senior center. Officers then swarmed the neighborhood surrounding the drain and a dry flood control pond.
Members of the Las Cruces SWAT team tried for two hours to talk the man out of the drainage pipes. They used a bullhorn and when he refused, they threw chemical agents into the tunnel in an attempt to get him to come out.
Gutierrez said Salas eventually came out of the drainage ditch brandishing a firearm and firing shots, and at least one Las Cruces police officer fired a round.