Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Police say man who shot at helicopter died at scene

MORIARTY, N.M. (KRQE) - A man Torrance County authorities say tried to shoot down a police helicopter is dead.

The State Police chief confirmed Tuesday evening it was one of his officers who ended the SWAT situation by killing the gunman.

Even into the night, State Police cars blocked the Moriarty home that had been the scene of a shooting hours earlier.

It started around noon Tuesday when someone called police to the home off Lexco Road near John C. Bowling Road. State Police say Torrance County Sheriffs deputies arrived to find a man with a rifle, firing off shots.

“He was vey clear in his intentions that if any officers got closer, he was going to shoot them,” said State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.

The Torrance County Sheriff’s Office says the man did shoot at helicopters.

Some neighbors went out to see what was going on.

“I started to look closer. I saw a guy sitting at his patio table on the back porch,” said Roger Brown, a neighbor. “It looked like he was leaned over or something.”

The State Police SWAT team responded at about 3 p.m. and about an hour later, neighbors heard a bang.

“Then, they went into the house and probably two to three minutes later, they all went out with nobody in cuffs or anything,” Brown said.

Chief Kassetas said one of his officers shot and killed the man.

“I don't have the exact particulars as to why the officer fired his weapon,” Kassetas said. “All I can tell you is that through how we operate in our training, there has to be a perceived threat. I'm sure there was a perceived threat.”

That is something State Police are still investigating. They have not yet named the man who was killed or the officer who fired the shot that killed him.

Nearby Mountain View Elementary was put on a freeze earlier and exterior doors were locked, according to school officials. The children were still let out of school at the normal time, however, and parents were contacted. Most children were able to return home as they normally would, but special accommodations were made for those who live near the home where the man was barricaded.

State Police has been brought in to take over the investigation from Torrance County deputies.

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