Jan. 22, 2002
By Bob Schober
A Montezuma County man armed with a sniper rifle held a La Plata County tactical team at bay for more than 12 hours before surrendering peacefully early Saturday morning.
After being treated for a minor eye injury at Mercy Medical Center, David Martinez, 31, was booked into the La Plata County Detention Center and charged with three counts of felony menacing, prohibitive use of a firearm and violating a restraining order. His bond was set at $5,000.
Martinez’s permanent residence is unknown, but he had been living with a woman in Dolores, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Dan Bender said.
Martinez never pointed a weapon at, or fired at, any of the 12 deputies and tactical-team members who surrounded the residence, said Bender, the Special Weapons and Tactics Team commander at the scene.
Martinez allegedly fired up to 15 shots at a mobile home at 9665 County Road 141, about 10 miles southwest of Durango, owned by his brother, Tim Martinez. Witnesses said the two men had a disagreement and a fight. David Martinez allegedly told his brother that someone was going to die and then began firing a CAR-15 semi-automatic rifle as Tim Martinez, his wife, Judy, and another man, Billy Howard, fled the residence.
Judy Martinez called the sheriff’s department at about 8 p.m. Friday, and deputies were at the scene within about 15 minutes, Bender said.
During her frantic call, Judy Martinez said David Martinez had climbed onto the roof of their home and was firing the assault rifle at her and her husband. They were lying in tall grass hoping David Martinez could not see them to shoot at them, Bender said.
Eventually, Judy Martinez, Tim Martinez and Howard fled to the highway, where they were met by deputies, interviewed and transported to a Durango motel for the night, he said.
At the scene, deputies established a perimeter around the residence and waited. David Martinez did not fire a shot after they arrived, and there were no hostages, Bender said.
"The first hour, though, the suspect was highly mobile, outside of the residence with an assault rifle and going back and forth between three buildings, all within 100 feet of each other, as if he were looking for people," Bender said. "The deputies were able to observe but didn’t fire, because he didn’t aim or fire at them. We kept him under observation all night, with two snipers in position."
David Martinez finally entered and remained inside the mobile home and refused to respond to attempts by negotiators to contact him by phone and loudspeaker systems.
The arrival at 8:20 a.m. of the sheriff’s department’s armored vehicle, nicknamed Aardvark for Armored All-terrain Rescue & Deployment Vehicle, changed things.
The vehicle, with negotiators inside, approached to within a few feet of the mobile home. Negotiators used a loudspeaker on another patrol car to order Martinez to come outside with no weapons. Martinez looked out a bedroom window, saw the armored vehicle and immediately left the residence and surrendered to tactical team members, Bender said.
"He was compliant and subdued," he said.
One deputy suffered hypothermia from lying in the snow. No other deputies were injured in the 12-hour stand-off, Bender said.
David Martinez was booked into the jail early Saturday evening after officials learned the Montezuma County Probation Department had revoked his parole for violating a restraining order and using alcohol.