Taos County law enforcement officials capture suspect following vehicle pursuit


Update: Sept. 11, 9 a.m. An initial version of this story reported that the suspect had discharged a firearm. This was incorrect and has since been revised. This is a breaking news story and may change as more information becomes available.

Sirens blared and shots rang out around Taos early Monday morning (Sept. 11) as law enforcement pursued and fired shots at a threatening suspect before making one arrest.

The suspect, now identified as 22-year-old Corwynn Valencia, may have been driving a stolen wrecker vehicle from Vigil's Towing Unlimited in Taos, according to Taos Central Dispatch reports. He was taken into custody after the truck suffered a mechanical failure around 12:30 a.m. near Sacred Vista Road in El Prado.

Law enforcement fired at the suspect during the pursuit, according to the reports. "Let me check this guy over," law enforcement reported from the scene. "He might have been hit by one of the rounds."

The reports were first disseminated just before midnight, when Taos Police Department officers responded to a report that a wrecker vehicle had been stolen along Camino de la Merced, according to a press release from Taos County Sheriff's Office.

The wrecker crashed into four other vehices as it was pulling out of the street, and the officers called in support from sheriff's office personnel, who engaged in an active pursuit alongside Taos police.

Law enforcement noted a vehicle on the wrecker – believed to have been a stolen vehicle that had been recovered earlier in the day by sheriff's deputies, according to the release.

The driver of the wrecker did stop for a time on Herdner Road near the intersection with Salazar Road, according to the release, but instead of complying with commands, allegedly reversed the wrecker into a Taos police unit, pushing the vehicle back "some 40 feet," according to the release. That unit, in turn, struck two Taos County patrol vehicles.

The release states that law enforcement personnel were near the vehicles when the driver had taken what was deemed as "life-threatening action." One Taos police officer responded by pulling his sidearm and firing shots at the suspect.

The driver fled again, but the damaged police and deputy units could not be driven. "I'm 10-4, but my vehicle is 10-7," one unit reported following the ramming, indicating that while they were not injured, their vehicle had been disabled.

Law enforcement called in further support.

Another Taos police unit, assisted by other deputies, Taos Tribal Department of Public Safety and New Mexico State Police, continued to pursue the driver of the stolen wrecker, which again stopped briefly at an unspecified location. The driver again attempted to "use the truck as a weapon and attempted to strike officers," ramming a tribal vehicle unit and prompting a tribal officer to pull his sidearm and fire at a front tire of the wrecker, "effectively deflating it," the release states.

The driver fled a third time.

The driver of the wrecker came to a complete stop along Sacred Vista Road in El Prado, where the vehicle appeared to have developed a mechanical failure. According to the release, "deputies rushed the driver and apprehended him without further incident."

Shortly after the arrest, Sgt. Jason Rael of the sheriff's office identified the suspect as Valencia, who had been "wanted on two outstanding warrants at the time of this arrest," according to the release.

Valencia had been struck in the hand by a bullet. Taos County Emergency Services units transported him to Holy Cross Hospital. He was then taken to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque later Monday morning.

"He is currently being held on two felony warrants while investigators sort out what new charges he will face," the release states. "In all 9 vehicles including the stolen wrecker were damaged and the chase ensued about 10 miles."

Taos police are investigating the original vehicle theft. The sheriff's office is investigating the two officer-involved shootings and both crash scenes.

This is a breaking news story. Check back here for updates.

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