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Body camera footage shows shooting of Farmington police officer

U.S. Marshals Service offers $10,000 reward for information leading to arrest of Elias Buck
The Farmington Police Department released body camera footage showing an officer-involved shooting that occurred Friday night. Elias Buck, a Durango fugitive, is suspected of shooting Officer Joseph Barreto in the arm. (Courtesy of Farmington Police Department)

The Farmington Police Department released body camera footage Tuesday from officer Joseph Barreto that captures his encounter with shooting suspect and La Plata County Jail escapee Elias Buck.

The shooting occurred Friday night after the officer stopped Buck and 28-year-old Victoria “Rossi” Hernandez while investigating reports of a drunken driver.


Buck previously escaped from the La Plata County Jail on Dec. 27, where he was being held on suspicion of vehicle theft.

The body camera footage shows Barreto exit his vehicle, approach two people walking down the sidewalk, and attempt to detain them before the male suspect pulls a firearm and fires multiple rounds, hitting Barreto at least once in the right arm.

Barreto returns fire. It was not immediately clear whether police have any reason to believe Buck may have been struck by gunfire; efforts to reach a spokeswoman for the Farmington Police Department were not immediately successful Tuesday night.

Before the shooting, Barreto shines his flashlight at the pair who are walking down the street. Barreto says, “Hi, guys,” and introduces himself as Officer Barreto with the Farmington Police Department. He asks them to take a seat on the ground.

The male suspect asks if they are being detained before placing his hand into his right jacket pocket. Barreto says yes and the suspect asks “Why?” while removing his hand from his jacket and then firing.

Barreto stumbles, breathing heavily and moaning, before he manages to radio for help. A police car arrives within moments, lights flashing and sirens roaring, and Barreto falls to the ground as another officer approaches to assist him.

Barreto was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center on Friday evening to be treated for a gunshot wound to his arm. He underwent surgery on Saturday and as of Tuesday was recovering at home, according to a news release from Nicole Brown, spokeswoman for the Farmington Police Department.

A manhunt ensued that evening that included SWAT teams from the Farmington Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, and New Mexico State Police with aerial assistance from the SJCSO helicopter and State Police drones.

Law enforcement searched the areas of North Tucker Avenue, North Fairview Avenue, and connecting streets between East 20th Street and East Main Street throughout the night. The initial search lasted until Saturday afternoon.

Buck remains at large as of Tuesday. He is described as 6-feet 1-inch tall and about 185 pounds with green eyes and blond hair.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbes said Saturday Buck is considered armed and dangerous, and members of the public should not approach him. Instead, anyone who encounters Buck should call 911.

The U.S. Marshals Service announced it is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to Buck’s arrest.

Likewise, the LPCSO announced a $5,000 reward Sunday morning for information leading to the arrest of Buck.

To submit a tip, call Farmington Police Department at (505) 599-1068.


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