ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A gunman bent on mayhem apparently ambushed Albuquerque police officers Saturday morning igniting a furious chase that sprayed bullets along the route and leaving three officers wounded before return fire killed the man.
Two police officers and a sheriff's deputy were shot and a suspect killed Saturday during a wild series of events stretching from downtown Albuquerque to the North Valley.
Shortly before 5 p.m. interim Albuquerque Police Department Chief Allen Banks released a statement confirming the wounding of two of his officers and a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy. All are in hospitals, and their families are being notified, he said.
Late Saturday both APD officers and the sheriff's deputy were reported to be in stable condition. Their names and the extent of their injuries have not been released.
There are multiple crime scenes, and the suspect fired at officers throughout the incident, Banks said. Numerous witnesses still need to be interviewed with the investigation expected to take "an extended period of time," he added.
An APD spokesperson said a media briefing had not been scheduled and that it was unlikely any additional information would be released until at least Sunday.
Banks' statement was the first official word from APD in the more than five hours between the time the incident began and the suspect was confirmed to be dead.
The name of the suspect and his background also are not known, and it's not clear how the chain of events began. However, sources told KRQE News 13 the man set up some kind of an ambush and drew officers to Iron Avenue SE at Broadway Boulevard about 11:30 a.m.
A witness told KRQE News 13 she saw a man in military-style camouflage engaged in a gun battle with a police officer, and another said the man was carrying an assault weapon when the first confrontation occurred
The location was adjacent to a Salvation Army center where an outdoor cookout had drawn an estimated 300 adults and children.
"All of a sudden gunshots started, somebody started shooting, and we could see the police officers running down the road shooting their guns," Annette Ramirez told KRQE News 13.
“He just started shooting,” said Amelia Guerrero, who said she saw a man open fire on officers who returned fire. “At least about 30 bullets.
“He was actually like about 15 feet away from me in the cop car, driving by with the fire gun shooting.”
The two APD officers were shot there, according to sources, and the gunman fled in one of the black-and-white Dodge Charger patrol cars.
"Some guy stole a police car and just passed through here going northbound and just started shooting all over," witness Amelia Guerrero said.
"We thought it was a cop, but it was a guy who stole a cop car shooting at the cops that were in front of us," added Freddie Montoya. "We had a bunch of kids around us, the girls, and he shot about eight times at the cops."
From there police pursued their suspect up Broadway some distance and then west to Rio Grande Boulevard NW and north into Los Ranchos. The suspect continued firing at officers, and a Los Ranchos resident reported hearing multiple gunshots.
The chase then move east to Fourth Street NW and south to Montano Road where the gunman crashed the cruiser into a pump station at the Circle K gas station on the northwest corner.
Officers converged and a gun battle ensued killing the suspect. It's not yet clear if the deputy was wounded there or several blocks farther north during the pursuit.
Witnesses caught on the street could only stay put. Hundreds of people were at the surrounding businesses near the intersection.
“And that's when he said, 'Mom, there's more cops coming. We saw in the mirrors, they were just whizzing by,” said Janelle Callahan, who witnessed the end of the chase and shooting.
Callahan and her teenage son had just left a nearby restaurant.
“We heard ‘boom, boom, boom, boom,’ four shots,” said Callahan said.
"We had to just stop wherever we were at and just stay put because that's when the tactical teams were coming in, and they were just trying to apprehend him," Janelle Callahan said.
Earlier reports from the scene that the gunman was in white pickup truck likely came from witnesses being confused by the shooter being in a police car and the truck involved in the stop and gunfight possibly being driven by an plain-clothes officer.
At about 2 p.m. the APD bomb squad deployed a robot at the gas station to check for explosives but apparently found none.
It has been a particularly violent week for New Mexico law enforcement officers. On Monday a gunman wounded a State Police officer in the leg near Roswell, and late Thursday another state officer took a bullet to his stomach during a raid in Española. Return fired killed the suspects in both incidents.
The officer shot near Roswell has been released from a hospital while the officer shot in Española remains hospitalized.
A Roswell Police Department officer directing traffic near Monday's shooting scenes suffered critical injuries when he was hit by a car.
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