A couple of drinks between neighbors on Jan. 13 turned into a domestic violence call in Velarde that escalated into the neighbors possibly shooting at each other.
Two Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the call on County Road 41 in Velarde.
While he was enroute to the call, central dispatch advised Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Craig Yazzie that one of the several E-911 callers was a boy hiding in a closet. The child said the suspect, later identified as Lorenzo Sanchez, had left the residence and then returned with a weapon.
Sanchez was a Taos County deputy until about Oct. 6, 2020 when he resigned.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said Monday Sanchez resigned after an Oct. 3, 2020 incident in Taos County in which he is charged with driving his County patrol unit while drunk and assaulting a man.
“He offered his resignation and I accepted and forwarded the proper paperwork to the Law Enforcement Board (LEA 90),” Hogrefe said. “He made a clean separation with us.”
An LEA 90 is filed when an officer displays inappropriate or illegal behavior. The form asks the Board to review the officer’s behavior, analyze the incident and make a ruling on whether the officer may retain his certification.
Yazzie, Deputy Jerry Albo and several New Mexico State Police officers met near a Velarde home Jan. 13 and approached the house quietly, on foot. Yazzie wrote in his report once the group was within earshot of the front porch they could see Sanchez, another man and a woman on the porch, yelling at the people inside.
The trio spotted the group of law enforcement, jumped in their respective vehicles and fled the area. Yazzie states as he and the other officers approached the house they could hear, “A great commotion of noise, to include loud screaming, shouting and what sounded like a scuffle.”
Yazzie kicked in the front door, the shock and sound of which silenced everyone in the house. Officers entered and placed everyone in the residence in handcuffs.
“At the moment we placed everyone into handcuffs a heavily intoxicated Mr. (David) Romero stumbled out of the rear bedroom,” Yazzie wrote.
Once they got the elder Romero under control and into handcuffs and took a brown handgun away from his son, the officers decided these were the victims of the crime.
Yazzie separated Amanda Romero, the drunk man’s wife from the group and asked her what happened.
She told Yazzie the three people who had just left had been at the house drinking and Sanchez started making jokes about her marriage and marital problems. She asked him to stop but Sanchez’s comments grew “more bold and crude.”
Amanda Romero told Yazzie she told the trio to leave and Sanchez pulled out a kitchen knife, swung it at her and cut her finger. Yazzie wrote he observed a small cut on her finger.
The fight continued with shoves and threats until Sanchez said he would go get his gun, return and harm her family.
She said he made good on that threat, returning a few minutes later and fired at the Romero house. Amanda Romero said she didn’t know if he shot at the house but that he was several meters away when he fired his weapon.
Amanda Romero herded her family to the back of the house, grabbed her handgun and went to the front door. She told Yazzie she chambered a round and fired twice out the open front door.
Yazzie wrote he found one spent 9 mm casing in the livingroom.
Yazzie went out and notified the officers gathered there of the events and the group started off on foot to arrest Sanchez at his house, about 100 yards north.
As they walked Sanchez got on his Taos County issued police radio and taunted the officers daring them to arrest him. Yazzie wrote his training and experience drove him to retreat and not press Sanchez into doing something drastic.
They again made their way to Sanchez’s front yard and at one point Sanchez came out with a man identified as Jerry Velarde, Sanchez’s mother and his girlfriend. The two women are not identified in the incident report. All were drunk.
While Velarde and the two women complied and walked toward the officers, Sanchez again retreated into his house. The three who had exited Sanchez’s house were questioned and released at the scene.
Meanwhile back at the Romero household David and Amanda Romero were fighting with each other and officers had to leave Sanchez’s house to go separate the Romeros.
Yazzie decided to go back to the Sheriff’s Office and draw up an arrest warrant. Before leaving, Sanchez’s girlfriend told Yazzie that she had a gun she had taken from Amanda Romero while in the house. An officer retrieved it from the woman’s car. It was a black .40 caliber semi-automatic of unknown make or model.
Yazzie placed both guns into evidence. He returned to the Romero house and gave Amanda Romero options but, “I vacated the home due to Amanda’s increasing level of agitation.”
State Police agreed to increase courtesy rounds through the night. The warrant was drawn and issued the next day.
The state filed on Jan. 19 an expedited motion for pretrial detention.
That motion recounts another incident in which Sanchez was involved, an Oct. 3, 2020 domestic violence incident in Taos County.
In that incident Sanchez got into an argument with Angelica Fresquez. She contacted her mother who came and got her and they left the residence in a car.
Sanchez followed in his patrol car, at one point striking the Fresquez vehicle, the motion states. They stopped at Joe Montoya’s house, a friend, hoping that would discourage Sanchez.
Instead Sanchez punched Montoya in the face. Taos County deputies arrived and while speaking with Sanchez about the alleged assault smelled alcohol on his breath.
Taos County Sgt. (no first name given) Rael states Sanchez could not pass field sobriety tests. Taos County Deputy Teodoro Flores attempted to place Sanchez in restraints. Sanchez pulled away and headed toward his patrol unit.
Flores beat him there and took Sanchez’s utility belt, which held his duty weapon. Flores again attempted to place Sanchez under arrest and when he resisted Deputy Jose Garcia deployed his Tazer.
Weather and court closures caused confusion for Sanchez’s Tuesday morning appearance before District Judge Jason Lidyard on the Taos incident. Sanchez was in attendance but neither prosecuting nor defense attorney was on the virtual meeting.
Britney Davula appeared for the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office and Alan Maestas represented Sanchez.
However, the hearing was pushed to Feb. 8 because the state was waiting for discovery for the Sheriff’s Office. She did not specify which office.
Lidyard asked if Sanchez was being held on any other cases and both attorneys said no. He asked if Sanchez would remain in the Tierra Amarilla Adult Detention Center and both attorneys agreed he would.
Lidyard set a pretrial hearing for both cases for 8:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 8.