State Police shoot at Roswell man after kidnapping, chase

·2 min read

Jun. 22—A Roswell man is accused of carjacking someone at gunpoint, kidnapping a woman and leading New Mexico State Police on a chase that ended with officers shooting at him on Monday in southeast New Mexico.

Joel Contreras, 27, is charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault against a police officer with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, aggravated fleeing and other felonies.

Contreras was not struck by gunfire and has been booked into the Chaves County Detention Center.

His criminal history, according to court records, includes arrests on stolen vehicle, burglary and larceny charges, among others. In 2020 he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading no contest to burglary and stolen vehicle charges.

Monday's encounter began with a carjacking in Roswell.

Authorities responded around 5:45 p.m. to reports of an armed robbery at an Allsup's convenience store, according to a criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court. A man told police the suspect stole his SUV at gunpoint in the parking lot.

Police were able to locate the vehicle at a nearby park using a tracking device left in the SUV. Once there, three men told officers a man in an SUV had pulled up and pointed a gun at them.

Dusty Francisco, a State Police spokesman, said a Chaves County Sheriff's deputy found the stolen SUV nearby and it was driven away. He said police and deputies pursued the driver east on U.S. 380, where spike strips were used to try to stop it.

Francisco said a State Police officer parked on the side of the road shot his rifle at the SUV "for reasons still under investigation" and the SUV crashed.

According to the complaint, a State Police agent told Roswell police the shooting occurred due to Contreras "supposedly swerving" at an officer.

Police said Contreras and a 23-year-old woman were detained at the scene. The woman told police Contreras kidnapped her at gunpoint off the street in Roswell.

The woman said Contreras threatened to kill her and her whole family during the chase and, at one point, drove head-on toward a police vehicle, according to the complaint. She told police she jerked the wheel away from the police vehicle and officers shot at the SUV before they crashed.

Contreras asked for a lawyer and declined to speak with police.