Española Police Department officers discovered two weapons and ammunition in a man’s car, after responding to a suspicious person call at the Family Dollar store on North Riverside Drive.
Officer Derrick Valdez was dispatched to the store at 10:35 a.m., Feb. 19, following a call from store manager Jason Johnson, in regard to a man in a camouflage jacket, dark pants and a black mask, walking around with a gun in his pocket. He said the man, later identified as Nathaniel Heffner, 21, of Española, was acting strangely and stood in the quilt area of the store for quite some time.
“It appeared the male was apprehensive because Jason remained vigilant due to the high amount of shopliftings that occur at this store,” Valdez wrote in his report. “Jason further observed what he described as a ‘long clip’ in the males (sic) pocket as he began to walk around the store. The male made it known he was carrying a firearm.”
As Heffner approached the checkout to pay for plastic ware, Johnson called dispatch to report he was at the register with a firearm. Johnson’s wife, Jedi Johnson, also an employee of Family Dollar, followed Heffner outside, as she took a cigarette break.
According to Valdez’s report, Heffner was irate and told Jedi Johnson not to follow him and he could have a gun if he wanted to. He then got in his car and appeared to be manipulating the firearm. He allegedly pointed it at Jedi Johnson and made a hand gesture to let her know he’s watching her, before he left the store.
Valdez and Officers Maxim Alaniz and Anthony Martinez spotted the car on North Riverside Drive near Pennzoil and pulled Heffner over. He complied with verbal instructions to exit the car and was immediately put in restraints and placed in Martinez’s patrol car.
Valdez spoke with Heffner, who said the Family Dollar employees were following him throughout the store. He admitted to having a weapon in his right pocket, but said he never pulled the gun out in the store. He denied pointing the gun at Jedi Johnson.
Based on his interviews, Valdez decided to arrest Heffner. He took towing inventory of his car and discovered a black Glock 21 with a bullet in the chamber and extended magazine on the front passenger seat. There were three other magazines to the firearm. He also found a M+M Northglen 7.62 rifle in plain view in the backseat, which was loaded. There were also five rounds for the rifle and an additional five rounds in a container.
Martinez, who was helping with the tow inventory, found a black duffel bag with marijuana, edibles and THC oil. There were 12 one-gram Remy’s Premium THC oil containers in three different flavors; five 1,000 mg Premium Max in different flavors, 12 Premium THC cartridges, 500 mg each, in different flavors; and 15.06 oz. of dried marijuana in a food saver plastic bag. The officers also found several glass Mason jars, several plastic containers and a red backpack with a lock.
“Nathaniel insisted I not look in the bag and denied ownership of the marijuana,” Valdez wrote in his report.
Heffner’s 2013 Toyota Camry was towed to the Española Police Department and sealed as evidence, pending a search warrant.
He was charged with two felonies: Aggravated assault (with a deadly weapon) and possession of a controlled substance (marijuana, 8 oz. or more). He’s also been charged with three additional counts of possession of a controlled substance (marijuana, 8 oz. or more), which are petty misdemeanors and one count of unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon, also a petty misdemeanor.
Heffner pleaded not guilty to all charges on Feb. 19 and has a motion hearing on March 24, in front of Judge David Segura in Santa Fe Magistrate Court. He is being represented by Española attorney Sheri Raphaelson.