Las Cruces – Las Cruces Police are continuing to investigate a bizarre Wednesday evening incident that included a verbal altercation, threats, an automobile crash and one man being transported to an El Paso hospital with a gunshot wound to his buttocks.
At around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 21, police were called to reports of a gunshot victim, and a two-vehicle collision at the corner of Missouri Avenue and Triviz Drive.
One of the passengers of a Honda Accord involved in the crash was found to have a bullet wound to his buttocks. The 20-year-old man was transported to University Medical Center of El Paso with what is believed to be a non-life-threatening injury.
Detectives learned that - a few minutes prior to the crash - a 30-year-old man, his girlfriend and their two young children were leaving the Mesilla Valley Mall near the food court where they noticed a Honda Accord with Texas plates driving erratically and at a high rate of speed through the parking lot. The 30-year-old man ordered the driver of the Honda to slow down and heated words were exchanged between the parties.
The man told detectives that, due to the threats made by the occupants of the Honda during the verbal altercation, he armed himself with a handgun that he legally carries and drove from the mall parking lot. As he and as his family left the parking lot they were apparently ambushed by the occupants of the Honda. Detectives learned that a rear passenger of the Honda leaned out a window and threw a rock that shattered a window in the family's vehicle.
The man told detectives that, believing the window was struck by gunfire and that his family was in danger, he responded by firing his handgun at the suspect striking the 20-year-old with one bullet wound to his buttocks.
Instead of taking the wounded man to a nearby hospital, the driver of the Honda fled the area at a high rate of speed and drove south on Telshor Boulevard and then west on Missouri. The driver ran a red light at Triviz and struck another vehicle as it crossed Missouri. No major injuries were reported as a result of the crash.
The Honda was believed to have been occupied by four Hispanic young men, either juveniles or young adults, two of whom fled the scene of the crash on foot. One juvenile eventually returned to the scene of the crash and was interviewed by police.
Detectives are continuing to investigate the incident and criminal charges against the occupants of the Honda are possible.
At this time, no charges are expected to be filed against the 30-year-old man who appears to have fired his handgun in self-defense.