The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Analysis - Records: Police knew Flores was 'suicide threat'

Officials still not saying how gun reached jail


February 8, 2018

David Stevens

Officials said the gun Wesley Flores used in Thursday's incident was a Kimber Micro semi-automatic pistol, similar to this one available for purchase at a Clovis gun shop.

CLOVIS - It's been almost a week since Wesley Flores somehow managed to bring a gun into the Curry County Adult Detention Center, briefly hold a hostage, keep law enforcement at bay for four hours, and ultimately shoot himself in the face.

At last report, he remained in critical condition in a Lubbock hospital.

The obvious question - How did Flores get the gun into the facility? - remains a mystery because investigators have declined to answer that question.

But through public information requests and readily available public records, we're slowly learning some of the details about what happened.

Fact: Clovis police at 1:51 p.m. last Thursday received a report of a "suicide threat" in the 1600 block of Jonquil Park Drive, according to police documents. A dispatcher's log shows Flores "is telling everyone he is going to kill himself," "He has stolen several weapons," "... he was going to shoot himself" and "He gets aggressive."

Fact: Flores was arrested at 1609 Jonquil at 2:30 p.m. that day, according to Curry County jail documents.

Fact: Flores was arrested because he failed to appear in court on charges he was a felon in possession of a gun, among other allegations, court documents show.

Fact: Police Officer Sanford Wagner brought Flores into the jail facility, jail records show.

Fact: The gun Flores used was a Kimber Micro automatic pistol, according to a Sheriff's Department report issued Tuesday. The gun had four bullets in the magazine and one in its chamber. Officials said only one shot was fired at the jail.

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle sent out a news release on Monday that appears to lay the blame for the incident at the feet of Clovis police. Pyle even suggested in his news release that media ask Clovis police about Officer Wagner's job status.

While police have mostly declined to answer questions about anything, citing the ongoing investigation, Chief Doug Ford on Wednesday did provide the dispatcher logs and responded via email to say no police employees have been placed on administrative leave since the jail incident occurred.

Jail records show Wagner has transported at least one prisoner to the jail since last Thursday, so he's still clearly working.

It's not known whether Wagner was the officer responsible for searching Flores for weapons when he brought him to the jail; other law officers may also have been involved in Flores' arrest and one of them could have been responsible for a weapons search. Or maybe another police agency was involved in the arrest.

But clearly someone failed in allowing Flores to bring a gun into the facility and public officials have not identified those responsible.

The county on Tuesday released a video that shows an officer transporting a prisoner - identified by jail Administrator Mark Gallegos as Wagner and Flores - from the jail's sally port into a pre-booking room. The prisoner appears to be wearing handcuffs and is not noticeably resisting.

But multiple other videos and documents have not been provided because they are "confidential law enforcement records," reads a letter from County Attorney Steve Doerr, who responded Tuesday to newspaper requests seeking information under the Inspection of Public Records Act.

Ford's response to the newspaper's IPRA request seems to indicate information will be released at some point. "(W)e are still investigating this incident and getting all video and information processed. We will let you know when these items can be released and are able to be inspected," he wrote in an email on Tuesday.

Social media, of course, is not waiting for investigations to be complete before assigning blame mostly to police for failing to search Flores.

Police have not responded to those critics or provided any explanations, which likely contributed to Pyle's comments on Monday as he publicly and aggressively defends his employees.

Pyle and Gallegos have said repeatedly that Flores was not their responsibility since he had not been booked into the jail and city taxpayers will be responsible for Flores' medical bills.

The person most responsible for last week's tragedy, of course, is Flores himself.

Even if the role police did or did not play in all of this is some day made public, the demons faced by Flores may never be known, or even understood.

Friends online described him as a "sweet guy," whom they would "never expect this from." They said he's had a hard life, and asked for prayers.


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