An alcohol-fueled fight between two Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies early Tuesday turned tragic, leaving one of the men dead in a hail of gunfire, New Mexico authorities said. The victim, 29-year-old patrolman Jeremy Martin, was hit several times in the back and arms as he tried to flee in an elevator at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces, local police said in a news release. He died at the hospital. The other deputy — identified by his lawyer as 27-year-old Tai Chan — was found in a stairwell in the hotel and taken into custody. Charges are pending, police said.
The men were working together Monday afternoon to transport a prisoner to a detention center in Arizona. On the way back home to Albuquerque, they decided to stay the night in a hotel room, police said. They spent the evening drinking at a bar “where it’s believed they consumed alcohol and got into an argument,” Las Cruces police said. They returned to the hotel after midnight, and the fighting continued. Police say the suspected deputy shooter fired “several rounds from a semi-automatic weapon” at Martin. He was found bleeding outside the elevator in the hotel’s lobby.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia called the shooting a “major shock” and said both deputies were “hard-working individuals.” It wasn’t immediately known why the men were fighting, he added. Police did not specifically name Chan, but said the suspected deputy shooter has been with the department for three years as an investigator. Martin, a married father of three, has been a patrolman for almost three years. “Nothing would ever indicate that anything like this would happen,” Garcia told reporters.
— Erik Ortiz