Jul. 18—An Alamogordo police officer was shot Saturday while pursuing a criminal suspect after a traffic stop. Anthony Ferguson, 41, died Sunday from his wounds, police said.
The Officer Down Memorial website reported Ferguson was the nation's 62nd law officer to die in the line of duty this year, the first in New Mexico.
Survivors include his father, Danny Ferguson, a 1973 graduate of Portales High School. Classmate Mike Davidson said Danny Ferguson was attending a 50th year reunion at Portales High School over the weekend when he received news of the shooting.
Dominic De La O, 26, of Alamogordo is charged with attempt to commit first-degree murder and is being held in the Otero County Detention Center. Officials said charges are expected to be amended to reflect the officer's death.
Alamogordo police issued a news release stating officers attempted to pull over De La O for driving without headlights or taillights. The vehicle did not stop and fled the scene. Officers did not pursue the vehicle, police said, but later found the car crashed into a light pole, where officers saw a male fleeing the scene on foot.
Anthony Ferguson and other officers pursued the suspect, who then opened fire with a sawed-off shotgun, striking Officer Ferguson in the face, the release stated.
A second Alamogordo officer fired his duty weapon at least once, striking De La O in the leg. Officers apprehended the suspect and took him to a local hospital where it was determined his injuries were not life-threatening.
Police said De La O was also involved in another altercation with police in January. In that case, De La O was shot twice in the back by Alamogordo police after he pulled a handgun during a fight with officers, court records show.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday issued the following statement:
"It is outrageous that it appears that the suspect in this horrific crime was released after a violent encounter with an officer earlier this year. As leaders, we have a responsibility to take every single action we can to prevent dangerous criminals from being released back onto New Mexico streets. Not one more New Mexican should become the victim of a preventable violent crime."
But court records show prosecutors never tried to detain De La O after he was shot in January. Bail reform has been a common theme of recent legislative sessions because of New Mexico's soaring crime rates.
"When it comes to bail reform there are no easy answers, but I think we can look at the system we created right now and understand that it needs to be fixed," said Brian Stover, an assistant district attorney in Clovis-Portales.
"There are some consequences that are not good; my opinion is that we have excellent judges within our communities who are well educated and elected by the public and I would suggest that we should trust them more to know when bond is appropriate to certain levels."
The Albuquerque Journal reported a warrant for De La O's arrest was issued last week after he violated conditions of his release from jail by being at a party where a shooting occurred.
Ferguson was an 11-year veteran of the police department. He was assigned to the patrol division and was also a field-training officer, responsible for training less-experienced officers.
In addition to his father, he is survived by his mother, four brothers, a daughter and a son.
Madison Willis of The News contributed to this report.