On Thursday, June 4 at around 5 p.m., State Police officers were called to assist the Roswell Police Department with an incident in which an individual, who was later identified as Luiz Gauna, 33, of Roswell had assaulted a Roswell police officer and stolen the officer’s patrol vehicle.
State Police officers learned that the incident began around east Albuquerque Street and south Virginia Avenue in Roswell when a Roswell Police officer stopped to speak with Gauna who was on a bicycle. Gauna took three tennis ball-sized river rocks from his pocket and began throwing them at the Roswell Police officer. The officer was struck twice in the head and once in the arm. After the assault, Gauna stole the officer’s patrol vehicle. The officer used his portable radio to report the theft.
The stolen police vehicle was pursued through the streets of Roswell by the Roswell Police Department. Gauna drove the stolen vehicle recklessly into oncoming traffic and avoided several attempts by law enforcement to utilize tire deflation devices.
State Police officers joined the pursuit on U.S. Highway 285 and Darby Road where they attempted to deploy tire deflation devices but were unsuccessful. The pursuit continued southbound on U.S. Highway 285 towards Artesia
As Gauna approached the Chaves / Eddy county line, Eddy County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to deploy tire deflation devices, however, Gauna avoided the attempt and began driving southbound in the northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 285 at speeds around 70 miles per hour.
At about milepost 77 on U.S. Highway 285, Gauna drove the stolen police vehicle head-on into a silver Dodge pick-up truck traveling north. After the crash, Gauna exited the stolen police vehicle and attempted to gain access to the Dodge pick-up truck that he just hit. As Gauna began to climb over the female driver of the Dodge, officers were able to subdue Gauna and take him into custody.
The Roswell police officer that was assaulted was treated and released with minor injuries. The female victim that Gauna stuck was the sole occupant of the Dodge pick-up and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Gauna was airlifted to an El-Paso hospital with what is believed to be non-life-threatening injuries he sustained in the crash.
State Police has charged Gauna with aggravated battery to a police officer, aggravated fleeing of a police officer, and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. Additional charges could be pending as the investigation continues. Gauna remains at the El Paso hospital in the custody of the New Mexico State Police. Upon his release from the hospital, he will be booked in El Paso by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and extradited to New Mexico.
The New Mexico State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit was called to assist with the investigation. The name of the female victim and the Roswell police officer will not be released by State Police. This case remains under investigation by the New Mexico State Police.