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.

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(4) comments

Michael Grimler

Carjackings are rare events - especially here in NM...but, here are some tips you might consider...

1) Be vigilant in your environment, especially outside of your home and at night. Always be aware of potential threats and plan to avoid them, if possible.

2) Always check your vehicle before entering it to help ensure this type of incident doesn't happen. Be prepared to back off and run to safety if you can.

3) Consider incorporating a firearm into a personal self-defense plan, and if you do, get expert training in marksmanship, firearm handling under stress, and the use of deadly force. If the victim had a firearm and used deadly force against this attacker, it's my opinion as a former law enforcement officer, firearm instructor, and use of deadly force instructor that it is more than likely it would have been determined to be justified under NM law based on the circumstances reported in this article.

4) If you're not comfortable with incorporating a firearm into a personal self-defense plan, get a TASER or pepper spray - but, get and carry something to give you the ability to better fend off an attacker with something other than harsh words and a mean face.

Based on this article, the victim was lucky more harm didn't come to him.

Khal Spencer

Agree completely with Michael. I made a much shorter version of this comment in an earlier version of this story but it seems to have disappeared.

I think there is a gel version of pepper spray that is better to use if wind is an issue. And Bear Spray. Pepper spray and stun guns are legal as long as you are not a prohibited person, from what I have read.

Moe Towne

This is great advice, thanks for all of the tips.

Would you say carjackings are mostly random? Based on the article details (suspect waiting in the back of the car/hiding), I'd wonder if the victim and suspect had some type of connection beforehand.

This is my own pure speculation, but it just seems different than someone being carjacked at a stoplight/parking lot. Someone waiting in the back seat of the car seems like it could be targeted.

Curious what you think, based on your experience in law enforcement.

Moe Towne

Hope the victim recovers quickly, what a terrible thing to happen.

If I even had the moeny, I don't think I'd buy a luxury car to flaunt in Santa Fe. Makes it too obvious you have money, and this is a town with mostly haves and have nots. The 1% and people barely scraping by.

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