The Las Cruces police officer who was ambushed and shot while behind the wheel of his marked unit on June 17 has been cleared to return to duty and should do so within the next few days.
Patrol officer Antony Harrison graduated from the Las Cruces Police Department Academy in February 2015 and was working the graveyard shift on June 17. Harrison was struck on the neck by a round that penetrated the windshield of his patrol unit. Harrison drove himself to Memorial Medical Center while dispatching to other officers pertinent information and direction of travel of the suspect. Harrison also had abrasion to his right forearm and cheek consistent with being struck by shattered glass.
About 2:20 a.m. on Monday, June 17, Harrison was dispatched to the report of a suspicious man at the Jack in the Box restaurant, 501 S. Telshor Blvd. The man, later identified as 35-year-old Francisco “Paco” Tarin, was inside the restaurant and appeared to be concealing something underneath his jacket. Harrison began looking for the man who left the Jack in the Box heading north and east across Lohman Avenue.
So far, the investigation has revealed that Harrison located Tarin near the intersection of Lohman Avenue and Nacho Drive. Harrison drove into the Office Max parking lot in his marked police unit and made a U-turn toward Tarin. When Harrison attempted to put a spotlight on Tarin, Tarin opened fire on the police unit. Investigators believe Tarin fired three rounds into the front of Harrison’s unit and four more rounds as the officer, unaware of the extent of his injuries, drove out of the parking lot on his way to MMC.
Tarin, who has resided in Las Cruces and Roswell, N.M., was located near The Home Depot. Officers from several agencies – including LCPD, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police and the U.S. Border Patrol – surrounded the suspect and gave multiple commands for him to show hands and cooperate. Tarin refused those commands. Officers discharged less-lethal bean bag rounds before Tarin fired at least one round toward officers. Six LCPD officers, two Dona Ana County Sheriff’s deputies, two Border Patrol agents and one New Mexico State Police officer responded to the deadly threat and returned fire. Tarin died at the scene.
The Officer-involved Incident Task Force is investigating the incident. The task force includes investigators from New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces Police, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State University Police. Findings from the investigation are turned over to the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review.