Grants, New Mexico

From the Gallup Independent of April 21, 2007

Grants man holds gun on escapee

A recent failure of an inmate to report back to authorities after a furlough ended in a local resident holding the man at gunpoint until authorities arrived.

After an incident in March 2006, charges were filed against Paul Valdez by the N.M. State Police on numerous counts, including armed robbery, aggravated burglary, two counts of breaking and entering, and the unlawful taking of an automobile.

Recently Valdez was found incompetent to stand trial; so, he was transported early this month by the Sheriff’s Department to Las Vegas, where people are sometimes sent while officials make a determination of their competency to stand trial.

While he was in the Las Vegas institution, his uncle, Gino Valdez Jr., died, and Valdez was to be a pallbearer at the funeral. Valdez was transferred back to the Cibola County Detention Center and was released April 9 on a 24-hour furlough.

His family then drove Valdez back to the detention center, but he never made it inside; instead, he ran across the street from the facility. As soon as law enforcement was notified, a massive police presence initiated a search for the fleeing Valdez.

After a two-hour search, a local resident notified authorities that Valdez had been hiding in the brush and bushes. The resident had a gun and had made Valdez lie down on the ground until authorities arrived. Valdez did not resist. He is now back in custody.

Although all ended well, the outcome could have been worse.

“(If) that citizen had shot Valdez, this could have been a different story. As citizens, you do have the right to make a felony arrest in your presence, but you cannot use undue force. There is a fine line there, so check on the laws first or you may be explaining your actions before a jury of your peers,” Hall said.

Valdez now faces additional charges of escape from a criminal detention center.

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