Santa Fe police still have no suspect in the violent carjacking early Friday morning that left a man with multiple broken bones in his face and wounds across his head and hands.
According to a police report, a male assailant strangled and beat a 69-year-old man in the 1600 block of Jay Street before stealing the man’s Jaguar and leading officers on a chase that went through the downtown area. The pursuit ended when the carjacker crashed the Jaguar at the dead end of Arroyo de las Cruces, about two miles from where the attack occurred.
Capt. Matthew Champlin of the Santa Fe Police Department said officers searched for several hours for the carjacker — who had fled on foot, leaving tracks in the snow — before stopping because of inclement weather.
“It truly is, as of right now, an unknown male,” Champlin said.
According to the report, officers found a Sig Sauer pellet handgun in the Jaguar and swabbed it for DNA, as well as an AR-15. Champlin said both guns, which belong to the carjacker, appear real and are made of metal but are are airsoft guns rather than actual firearms.
A third gun was taken into evidence, but the make and model were redacted from the evidence report.
The attack happened just after midnight Friday, when the victim got into his 2016 black Jaguar outside his Jay Street studio. The assailant, who was waiting inside the car, wrapped a seat belt around the victim’s neck and began to strangle him, according to the police report.
After a brief struggle, the victim was able to get out of his car, but fell to the ground, where the attacker beat him with a hard object across his head and face, leaving him bleeding profusely, according to the report. The man told police he began screaming for help as the attacker got into his car and drove eastbound on Jay Street.
The man then began going to nearby houses looking for help until a neighbor let him inside and called 911.
Champlin said police do not yet know how the carjacker got inside the Jaguar.
After speaking to police, the injured man was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center with fractured bones around his left eye, as well as a broken nose, according to the police report. His left eye was swollen shut, and he had wounds across his left hand and fingers. The man told police he had put his hands over his head during the attack to protect himself.
Moments after officers arrived at the scene of the carjacking, another officer spotted the Jaguar near South Guadalupe Street and Manhattan Avenue, before it turned left onto Paseo de Peralta, according to the police report. The officer attempted to pull the car over, but the driver continued through a red light at St. Francis Drive and onto Hickox Street at an estimated 70 mph.
The officer lost sight of the vehicle near Agua Fría Street, according to the police report.
A second officer then began pursuing the Jaguar before seeing the driver turn onto Arroyo de las Cruces, the report said. The driver crashed at the end of a dirt driveway and then fled on foot.
Officers began tracking his footprints in the snow, finding he had headed north and jumped over two fences before crossing a field and heading west along the Santa Fe River, according to the police report. The tracks went south near Camino Carlos Rael. At one point during the search, an officer radioed that the man might be armed and dangerous, according to the police report.
The man was able to elude officers after the search was called off due to bad weather.
Champlin said a search will be called off in inclement weather if it creates an unsafe situation for officers or gives the suspect an advantage. In the case of snow, he said, officers might not be able to see what they are coming up upon.
A National Weather Service spokesperson said temperatures early Friday morning were just above freezing, and parts of Santa Fe got up to 6 inches of snow. Winds picked up around 1 a.m. and blew at about 10 to 13 mph.