Murder suspect pursued in Valley


COSTILLA COUNTY — Colorado and New Mexico authorities are searching for murder suspect Charles Lobato, 30, who allegedly shot at Costilla County code enforcement officers who tried to stop him before possibly crossing the New Mexico border on Thursday morning.

According to the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office, code enforcement officers spotted the suspect’s vehicle about 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 5 at a residence near County Road 21. Costilla County Undersheriff Ricky Rodriguez said on Friday that code enforcement officers identified Lobato, who is wanted for a January murder in El Paso County, as a passenger in a black 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe with the Colorado license plate QXC926. The officers began following the Tahoe, and during the pursuit, an unidentified individual stuck a handgun out of the window and fired one shot at code enforcement officers. The officers did not fire back at the vehicle because the suspect vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed, the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office stated.

A search of the area was conducted and neither the occupants nor the Tahoe were located. This is an ongoing investigation, and if anyone has any information regarding this incident please contact the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at 719-589-5807 or at 719-672-0673.

Taos County law enforcement agencies have joined in the search for Lobato, who may have crossed into northern New Mexico after his encounter with the Costilla County code enforcement officers.

Taos Central Dispatch reports indicated that law enforcement attempted to track the suspect’s vehicle using OnStar but learned that the system had been disabled on the vehicle in 2008.

Lobato is wanted on a first-degree murder charge for the fatal shooting of Shawnee Tapia, 35, on January 7 in the parking lot of Astro Liquors in Colorado Springs. He is described as a 5-foot-tall, 155-pound Hispanic man with brown hair, brown eyes, a mustache, goatee and a shaved head. Lobato has multiple tattoos including a Broncos emblem on his chest and the word “Park” on his right hand.

Lobato should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him should not approach him but should dial 9-1-1 immediately.

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