NMSP NEWS RELEASE
On March 2, at around 11:30 a.m. the New Mexico State Police, was asked to assist in a pursuit involving the Santa Fe Police Department and a suspect involved in a kidnapping and carjacking that had just taken place at around 11:00 a.m. in Santa Fe.
State Police learned that Santa Fe Police Officers initiated the pursuit near Sawmill Road and St. Francis Drive. The pursuit continued to Interstate 25 where the suspect drove in the wrong direction, traveling south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 25. Near milepost 286 just north of Old Pecos Trail a crash occurred involving at least 5 vehicles, two Santa Fe Police patrol units, the white suspect vehicle, and two uninvolved vehicles, a pickup truck, and a blue car.
A Santa Fe Police officer identified as Officer Robert Duran, 43, of Rio Rancho, NM, and the driver of the pickup truck identified as retired Las Vegas, NM firefighter Frank Lovato, 62, of Las Vegas, NM suffered fatal injuries and died in the crash. They were pronounced deceased on the scene by the Office of the Medical Investigator. The driver in the blue car was transported for non-life-threatening injuries. The events of that crash are still under investigation by the New Mexico State Police Uniform Bureau and New Mexico State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit.
After the crash, a female who identified herself as the kidnapping victim exited the white suspect vehicle and was transported to a local hospital, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and later released. According to witnesses, an unidentified male subject fled the area on foot. He was described only as wearing a red shirt, black pants, and a black jacket.
NMSP does not believe that there is an ongoing threat to the public. State Police Investigators have been working diligently throughout the night and days since the incident to sort through evidence and witness statements to determine a sequence of events leading up to the incident.
During the investigation, an NMSP BOLO that was not meant for public release was sent out to law enforcement agencies informing them of a potential suspect. Initially, this is the information that was given to investigators by witnesses. This BOLO was sent out to law enforcement agencies only, to be used for law enforcement purposes only.
New Mexico State Police investigators contacted the individual identified in the BOLO, Mark Thomas Lopez, and after a thorough investigation, Mr. Lopez was cleared and ruled out as a suspect. Since the BOLO was disseminated to law enforcement agencies across the state, it is unknown who posted it to social media.
This incident is under investigation by the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau. The details contained in this release are the most current information we have in an ever-evolving and dynamic investigation. We appreciate your patience as we progress through this complex investigation with our partner agencies. NMSP is committed to arresting and charging the person that caused this tragic crash that took the life of Santa Fe Police Officer Robert Duran, retired Las Vegas Firefighter Frank Lovato, and brought tragedy to those whose lives will never be the same.
Anyone that witnessed the moments just after the crash and might have seen the suspect vehicle, the occupants of the vehicle, or has any information related to this investigation please contact New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau Sergeant Andrew Jorgenson at 505-490-3871 or Agent Wyatt Harwell at 505-316-5254.