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

Grandfather: Wesley Flores couldn't kick drug habit

Jail shooting victim says gun was in waistband.


March 4, 2018

John Mares is still haunted by the events of Feb. 1, when his grandson Wesley Flores shot himself at the Curry County jail.

“People are trying to make him a bad person because he was on drugs ... but unfortunately he just got that habit and he couldn’t break it,” Mares said.

A loved one has been by Flores’ hospital bedside in Lubbock every day since the shooting, Mares said.

Flores, 28, will need weeks, maybe months, to learn to speak again after significant damage to his face and mouth caused by the self-inflicted gunshot. His complete recovery is expected to last a year.

But Flores’ grandfather is hopeful the incident may have given a new outlook on life for a young man who spoke openly during his four-hour standoff with police of his intention to die.

Since his hospitalization, Flores told his grandfather, he no longer craves drugs or even cigarettes.

Mares is a retired law enforcement officer who worked more than 30 years in Clovis and Texico.

He said he still has students from his Drug Abuse Resistance Education classes greeting him in public.

He repeatedly urged his grandson to seek treatment for addiction that police reports show included heroin.

Flores, he said, started but soon left two different drug-rehabilitation programs in the past year.

As his drug-related problems persisted, Flores stole weapons and money from his grandfather’s safe, Mares said.

Mares said he hoped the state might be able to help with his grandson’s recovery, which was the reason he reported his guns stolen and told police Flores was responsible.

“My intention was, when it got really bad and he was stealing checks and money, I thought, I think the only solution we have, because he won’t go (back) to rehab, I think the best thing to do is file charges on him,” Mares said.

He said he hoped prosecutors and a defense attorney might “plea him out to something, and maybe get him sentenced to rehab,” he said.

By the time police responded to Mares’ home on Feb. 1 to a report of a suicidal subject with a weapon, they were already familiar with some pending charges against Flores.

It was a bench warrant for failure to appear in court that put Flores in handcuffs that afternoon.

As officers talked to Flores during his arrest, they asked him about the theft from his grandfather of a Kimber Micro pistol.

“He told (arresting CPD Officer Sanford Wagner) he had gotten rid of it,” said Mares, who was not surprised by Flores’ answer.

“Every gun he had stolen from me, he traded it off for dope. Except for this one. He was intending to kill himself.”

Police reports show Officer Wagner — who has not responded to requests for interviews — searched Flores, but was unable to find a gun.

Mares said his grandson — who communicates in the hospital by writing on a whiteboard — told him the gun was in the waistband of his loose-fitting sweatpants.

“Once they handcuffed him they searched him, and Wesley said they even went across the gun. They didn’t find it,” Mares said.

Less than an hour after his arrest, the pistol emerged from Flores’ clothes while he was in a small vestibule room for a pre-booking pat down by Curry County Adult Detention Officer Sean Rowland.

Mares said his grandson told him Officer Wagner had left the vestibule to prepare papers in the booking area. Rowland removed Flores’ police handcuffs and had him place his hands against the wall for the search. At that point the pistol slipped down Flores’ pant leg, Mares said, and Flores “reached over and put his foot over it.”

“Then he reached down and picked it up,” Mares said. Then Flores said he told the jailer, ‘“I’m not going to hurt you, I’m going to hurt myself.’”

Four hours later, he did exactly that, shooting himself in the face just after police released pepper spray into the vestibule.

Despite his actions, Mares is hopeful his grandson might not face additional criminal proceedings.

“I think what he’s gone through is worse than prison,” he said. “I hope the DA maybe sees that.”

Court records show no new charges for Flores, although he was recently scheduled for an arraignment this month on the previous larceny charges.

There remain several unknowns for John Mares, some that may never be resolved and others that may only take a little waiting more.

“The one that concerns me the most is the flash bang, the sequence of the flash bang,” he reflected, referring to the “noise diversionary device” officials said they deployed immediately after Flores shot himself.

Mares said Flores told him the flash bang came first, and that he decided then he would rather die by his own hand than by another.

“I think about it all the time,” Mares said. “It haunts me. I need to find out the truth by seeing (video recordings from the jail).”

Clovis police have said video of the incident will be made public soon.

CPD Capt. Roman Romero maintains the police descriptions of the flash bang sequence are correct. He has declined to discuss personnel or procedure adjustments following the Feb. 1 incident.

Jail Administrator Mark Gallegos has said his staff followed procedures correctly.

Romero said last month, “In the end, we must remember that Wesley Flores chose to take actions that injured himself.”

Mares holds police responsible as well.

“Bottom line, he (Officer Wagner) should have found that gun.”


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