CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Police officers try to talk an armed man into surrendering in a field at Hondo and Seventh streets . The pursuit, which started with a traffic stop, lasted almost three hours and ended peacefully behind Bella Vista Elementary School, police said.
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
An armed Clovis man surrendered to police Saturday after a standoff that lasted almost three hours and encompassed multiple locations on Clovis’ west side.
The 34-year-old pulled a .45-caliber handgun from his glove compartment, pointed it at his head and drove away when police asked for a driver’s license and registration during a traffic stop, according to Clovis Police Capt. Patrick Whitney.
The incident began around 10 a.m. near Allsup’s at 21st Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The suspect was recently arrested for a DWI and did not have a valid license. His anxiety about receiving additional citations and fines may have prompted him to evade police, Whitney said.
“It couldn’t have ended any better. He’s safe, we’re safe — it can’t go any better than that,” Whitney said.
Officers from Clovis, the Curry County Sheriff’s Office and the state police blocked roads and herded residents inside homes and businesses as the situation moved from one neighborhood to another.
The man stopped for a short time at two locations before parking in a field behind Bella Vista Elementary School.
The standoff was within eyesight of a half-dozen volunteers working to complete a Christmas float in the parking lot behind the school.
“We’re not going to let what’s going on discourage what our kids want to do,” volunteer Nina Montoya said as police negotiated with the armed suspect in the distance.
Montoya said about 20 children and a handful of volunteers gathered at the school Saturday morning to get the float ready for Saturday evening’s Christmas Light Parade.
The principal took the children inside the school and locked it down when the suspect led police to the field behind the school, she said.
Adult volunteers continued working even though they had been cautioned by police to stay inside.
When the man exited his silver El Camino and was taken into police custody around 2 p.m., the group at Bella Vista ran from their float to watch.
Cheering, they could be heard saying “Thank you Jesus,” and “Thank God.”
The suspect’s brother helped negotiators talk him into surrendering, Whitney said.
Following his arrest, the man was taken to the hospital for evaluation, then to the Curry County Adult Detention Center. He is charged with misdemeanor counts of resisting, evading or eluding a police officer, negligent use of a firearm and traffic citations, Whitney said.