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Shots fired as wanted man leads officers on chase into Dolores

Officers use spike strip, guns to end it

Law enforcement officers deployed a spike strip and fired a stun gun and a firearm before arresting a man who fled a traffic stop on Colorado Highway 184 about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, according Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin.

No injuries were reported. The man arrested was identified as John Eugene Gammon, 40, of Aztec, New Mexico, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, Cortez Police Department, Colorado State Patrol and Dolores Fire Protection District responded to the incident.

Gammon has been charged with possession of a weapon by a previous offender, menacing with a weapon, vehicular eluding, first-degree assault on a peace officer, second-degree assault on a peace officer, criminal attempt, resisting arrest, failure to drive in single lane, reckless driving and failure to stop at stop sign. There may be additional charges, officials said.

The incident began when sheriff deputy Zach Green pulled over a red pickup with a trailer for weaving and having no taillights. The truck was northbound on Colorado 184 and had New Mexico plates.

Nowlin said Gammon had a felony warrant for his arrest, and a “struggled ensued” as Green attempted to arrest him. Green twice used a stun gun in an attempt to subdue Gammon, but he escaped and jumped into his vehicle, where he grabbed a shotgun and drove off, according to the sheriff.

“The officer said the suspect appeared to be under the influence of something,” Nowlin said.

Deputies pursued the vehicle northbound, and deputy Donnie Brown deployed spike strips on Colorado 184 near County Road S.2, which the suspect ran over, flattening his tires, Nowlin said.

But Gammon continued driving 2 to 3 miles on flat tires and rims, turning onto County Road 30 and driving into Dolores. A Cortez police officer, positioned at an area known as The Beach near the Dolores River, fired twice on the vehicle in an attempt to stop it, according to Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane.

From there, Gammon continued east onto Merritt Way and came to a stop. He continued to struggle while being taken into custody, Nowlin said.

Lane said the shooting was justified “to prevent the suspect from entering the town of Dolores, where a bystander could have been hurt. The officer shot at the radiator, disabling the vehicle.”

He said that shooting will be reviewed by an outside law enforcement team. The officer involved in the shooting was not put on administrative leave because there were no injuries and the shots were directed to disable the vehicle.

Nowlin said the incident is still under investigation, and that charges are pending.

“We are thankful there were no injuries,” Nowlin said.


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