SAN LUIS VALLEY – Law enforcement officials from three counties in the San Luis Valley as well as the Colorado State Patrol were involved in a vehicular pursuit of a suspect, identified as Anthony Gomez, 56, of Denver, on Sunday. During the pursuit – which covered Saguache, Rio Grande and Alamosa Counties – Gomez, driving a green Toyota Rav 4, reached top speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour in both 55 mile per hour and 45 mile per hour zones. After ramming a Center Police Department vehicle with an officer and K-9 officer inside plus causing damage to other vehicles of the responding agencies, Gomez was eventually stopped and arrested. Anthony Gomez, who also had a warrant for his arrest out of the Department of Corrections for a parole violation, is now in Saguache County Jail where he could be facing a slew of charges related to the pursuit.
According to accounts from both Sheriff Dan Warwick of Saguache County and Center Chief of Police Dale Meek, at approximately 3:25pm on Sunday afternoon, Deputy Chavez with the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) attempted to pull over Anthony Gomez for allegedly speeding and making bad passes on Highway 285 as well as displaying improper vehicle registration that, according to Meek, “is typical with vehicles that are stolen.” Upon the approach of Chavez’s SCSO vehicle, Gomez sped up and attempted to flee.
Sergeant Fresquez with the Center Police Department assisted Chavez by deploying stop sticks created to deflate a vehicle’s tires, thereby preventing high rates of speed and ultimately disabling the vehicle altogether. But Gomez managed to avoid the stop sticks, at which point Fresquez then joined in the pursuit as a support unit for SCSO.
After exiting Highway 285, Gomez took numerous backroads that largely paralleled the highway, initially staying in the Center – Del Norte area before heading south and east and then crossing into Alamosa County. Other agencies were involved in the pursuit, including Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office, Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office, Del Norte Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol .
Roughly thirty minutes into the pursuit, Gomez pulled into a driveway in rural Alamosa County, intentionally ramming Sgt. Fresquez’s vehicle – with both Fresquez and K-9 Officer Kit inside – as he tried to turn around. That additional felonious act prompted the Colorado State Patrol to take more decisive action in stopping Gomez, via something known as a Tactical Vehicle Intervention (TVI). A TVI is a maneuver that basically causes a vehicle to spin out and stops further movement, allowing law enforcement officials time to encircle the suspect with their patrol cars and block him in.
The TVI was successful. Gomez spun out and went into a potato field, where he was blocked in and subsequently arrested.
According to Sheriff Warwick, the pursuit ended 61 minutes after it began. Gomez, who is being held without bond due to parole violations, is potentially facing charges such as reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, first-degree assault of a police officer, eluding officers, reckless driving and speeding.
In a Monday press release sent out to a Neighborhood Watch group, Center Police Chief Meek commended all law enforcement involved in the incident for conducting themselves, “professionally, with calm and reservice for the intense situation and [communicating] well with each other to have a successful conclusion.”