Santa Fe man dies from injuries sustained in police shooting

Mar. 13—A suspect wounded by Santa Fe police gunfire during an arrest operation Sunday afternoon in a midtown neighborhood has died from his injuries at a local hospital, the department announced Wednesday.

The agency had indicated Monday Rick Robert Chavez, 35, was in "stable but critical" condition in an initial news release about the shooting, which also left a second suspect and a Santa Fe officer with gunshot wounds. The department learned Tuesday Chavez had died, it said in a news release issued Wednesday.

Police said in the statement Chavez was armed with a handgun during the incident, in which three Santa Fe police officers had fired their weapons. However, the department hasn't said Chavez fired any shots. Nor has the agency reported a second suspect in the incident was armed, raising questions about whether the wounded officer was shot by police.

Santa Fe police and New Mexico State Police, which is investigating the shooting, both have declined to comment on whether the officer was shot by another officer or by someone else at the scene.

Wednesday's news release says, "Police rendered aid to the two suspects and to a Santa Fe Police Officer who was also struck by gunfire."

The release later says, "The involved SFPD Officer is in stable condition and has been released from the hospital."

George Anthony Theragood Jr., 42, who is accused of trying to help Chavez flee police as they were attempting to arrest him, also was released from a local hospital following his treatment. Theragood was struck in his right arm by officers' gunfire from inside his vehicle, police have said. He was discharged from a hospital Sunday and booked into the Santa Fe County jail on felony charges of aggravated fleeing and harboring or aiding a felon in the incident.

Early Monday evening, a new case filed against Theragood charged him with an additional count: "disarming a peace officer (removing a firearm or weapon)." Santa Fe police Deputy Chief Ben Valdez wrote in an email Theragood had gained "control of the officer's 40mm less lethal launcher. Once the officer regained control of the less lethal launcher, Mr. Theragood attempted to take control of the launcher again."

A criminal complaint filed against Theragood does not indicate he or Chavez had fired a weapon.

State officers also were involved in the operation, in which police were attempting to arrest Chavez on outstanding warrants after receiving a tip from a confidential source he was at his father's residence on Don Quixote, the criminal complaint states. State police officers did not fire their weapons, a spokesman from the agency wrote in an email.

Using a drone, police followed Chavez several blocks east to Rodeo Park Drive, where he got out of the vehicle. City and state police were then sent to the location, according to the complaint.

Chavez drove away after crashing into two police cruisers, the complaint states, and police chased him from the scene. He drove across road spikes officers had deployed to deflate his tires, and his vehicle came to a stop on Vereda de Encanto, where the shooting occurred, according to the complaint.

Neither Santa Fe police nor state police have released the name of the officer struck by gunfire or the names of the officers who fired their weapons. The Santa Fe officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, a news release said.

State police spokesman Ray Wilson wrote in an email Wednesday, "The details of the shooting are under investigation by the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau with assistance from the New Mexico State Police Crime Scene Team, when that investigation is compete we will know more about those details."

He added, "NMSP generally does not identify officers from other agencies, you will have to get that information from the Santa Fe Police Department."

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.