New Mexico Deputy shot
Courtesy of The Albuquerque Tribune
TIJERAS, New Mexico - A Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department deputy was shot and killed early this morning, prompting a massive manhunt for his assailant, who sped away south into Cedro Canyon.
Deputies are furious and heartbroken, said Sheriff Darren White.
"Words cannot describe the heartbreak," he said. "We will not rest until we catch this murderer."
The deputy, whose name won't be released until later today, had been with the department for less than five years, White said.
He leaves behind a wife, the sheriff said.
The deputy had alerted Bernalillo County dispatchers around 12:45 a.m. that he was pulling over a vehicle at the intersection of N.M. 333 and N.M. 337, the road that leads south through the Manzano Mountains.
The driver pulled onto the shoulder of southbound N.M. 337, directly across from Canyon Crossroads Animal Hospital and a quarter-mile south of the intersection with N.M. 333, known by many as old Route 66.
Why the deputy pulled over the vehicle isn't clear, White said.
But within five minutes after the deputy typed into his computer that he had stopped the driver, residents near the intersection called in to say they had heard two gunshots. They also reported seeing a light-colored pickup speeding south.
When deputies arrived, they attempted to revive the fallen deputy without success in front of his vehicle, White said.
Based on the slain deputy's original call, a search quickly began for the vehicle, a 1991 Dodge pickup bearing New Mexico plates with the No. 459 CDS.
It isn't clear whether the vehicle had been stolen, White said.
As the sky lightened this morning, nearly two dozen squad cars parked at the scene or prowled the area, and officers from the Sheriff's Department, Albuquerque Police Department and State Police scoured the area, apparently looking for evidence in a light snowfall.
Deputies were also staking out the West Side address near Ouray and Ladera roads Northwest listed on the truck's registration.
State Police were posted along I-40 near the Tijeras exit this morning and other patrol cars could be scene driving up and down N.M. 337, which was blocked to all traffic.
Schools in the East Mountains were closed for the day. Albuquerque Public Schools spokesman Joe Escobedo said one of the area's school bus contractors was on the wrong side of the roadblock, and the other contractor couldn't reach some students.
White said calling the deputy's family was one of the most difficult things he had ever done.
"It doesn't get any harder than this," he said at the scene. "I'm vacillating between intense anger and sadness."
In addition to the pain felt by the slain deputy's family, White said, the Sheriff's Department has about seven more deputies who work in the department's East Mountains office who were distraught.
"It's been the toughest time for all of them," he said.
The deputy's death is the most recent in a string of difficult moments for Albuquerque-area law enforcement personnel. In August, Albuquerque police Officers Richard Smith and Michael King were shot and killed outside the Southeast Heights home of an Albuquerque man.
John Hyde has been charged with their deaths and those of three other Albuquerque men in a string of shootings.
The last time a Bernalillo County deputy was killed in the line of duty was March 2001, when Angelic Garcia, 26, lost control of her patrol car and crashed while responding to a call.
In May 1994, sheriff's Lt. William Sibrava was attempting to bring in a young Albuquerque man, Stephen Mercer, for a mental health evaluation. Sibrava was shot and killed, as was Mercer's father, Joe, a prominent New Mexico politician.
Other counties have suffered similar losses, most recently the 2004 shooting of Deputy Robert Hedman in Otero County.
Valencia County lost Deputy Damacio Montoya in 2002 when tried to break up a fight outside a Los Lunas bar.
In 1999, Sierra County Deputy Kelly Clark was killed by a man she had arrested but who managed to get her gun as she drove him toward Grants.
This is a very sad day in law enforcement to loose a brother or sister in blue. Too many of our brothers and sisters have given their all to protect and serve the community they were patrolling. My heart and prayers go to the spouse and family of the fallen officers. God bless them all and I know that they have a place in heaven and are now smiling down on the rest of us. Yes their tour of duty ended in violence and this is why the rest of us must keep our wits about us when stopping or answering calls by one officer. Be safe and go home to your loved ones at the end of your tour.
I am not a violent person, and would rather talk than fight, but when you kill a cop, there should be no trial by jury, no judge, just a firing squad. It is a sad world we live in that someone doing thier job is killed in cold blood. We all know that each time we put on the badge, and the uniform, no matter what color it is we may not come home at the end of the shift, but we go out and do our job anyway. May the Lord watch out for each of us on duty tonight and in the future, be safe, and R.I.P to our fallen brother.
Deputy Sheriff James McGrane Jr.
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Tour of Duty: 13 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: At large
Deputy James McGrane was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on Highway 337.
Deputy McGrane was shot twice while making contact with the driver of the vehicle. Within minutes of Deputy McGrane calling in the stop, witnesses in the area reported hearing two gunshots and seeing a white pickup flee the scene.
The suspect had previously served at least six years in jail on unrelated charges and is also wanted in connection with a murder that took place in November 2005. He remains at large.
Deputy McGrane had served with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department for 2 1/2 years. He had previously served with the New Mexico State Police and United States Postal Inspection Service for a total of 10 1/2 years.
Agency Contact Information
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department
400 Roma NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Phone: (505) 768-4100
* Please contact the agency for funeral information