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Armed Citizen Halts Rampage of Cop Killer in New Mexico

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In a tragic turn of events that has both shocked and united the community of Las Cruces, New Mexico, an armed citizen took decisive action to stop a deadly assault on a local police officer, according to reports from KOB 4 News and Las Cruces Sun News.

The incident unfolded on February 11, when Las Cruces Police Officer Jonah Hernandez, a dedicated husband, father and two-year veteran of the force, responded to a trespassing call at a business on the 300 block of South Valley Drive. Officer Hernandez, tragically, was stabbed to death by 29-year-old Armando Silva, who had a history of mental illness and criminal convictions, including violent crimes.

In the midst of this chaos, 29-year-old Issiah Astorga witnessed the attack. Fearing for his life, his girlfriend’s life and that of the officer, Astorga retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and intervened. Despite his efforts to stop the altercation without violence, Astorga was forced to shoot Silva as he advanced toward him in a threatening manner after stabbing the police officer. Astorga and another good Samaritan then attempted to aid Officer Hernandez until emergency services arrived.

The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced last week they would not pursue charges against Astorga, recognizing his actions as a necessary measure to stop the violent assailant. Astorga, in a statement, expressed deep regret over the incident, highlighting the traumatic impact of the day’s events on himself, his girlfriend and the community at large.

Issiah Astorga Statement (as reported by KOB 4 News):

On February 11, 2024, I witnessed an individual attacking an officer at 335 South Valley Drive. I saw that the individual who was attacking the officer was in complete control of the altercation. I made the decision that I was going to go try to stop the altercation, but I was afraid that the individual attacking the officer could make the decision to disarm the officer of his service weapon.

So, I decided to arm myself with my handgun that I keep in my car, for protection. I then ran towards the fight with the hope of stopping it. As I was approaching, I could see that the officer was bleeding severely from the neck area while continuing to be attacked. I yelled for the attacking individual to stop.

However, in a threatening manner, the individual who attacked the officer turned and advanced towards me. Due to the severe bleeding from the officer, I knew that the individual approaching me had a weapon. Fearing for my life, my girlfriend’s life, and the officer’s life, I fired my handgun. When I felt that it was safe to do so, I tried my best to aid the injured officer. A good citizen who partially witnessed these events helped me try to control the situation and radioed to dispatch the events that had happened.

On February 11, 2024, a tragedy occurred that should have never happened. I, unfortunately, had the burden of being a part of that tragedy, and it will follow me the rest of my life.  I truly wish that the events that happened that day never occurred. If I could go back in time and prevent any of this from happening, I would in a heartbeat. My heart goes out to family, friends, and every single person who has been affected. I hope that as a community, we can help each other to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

As time moves forward and more information becomes available, I hope that everyone can be respectful to those who were directly and indirectly involved. Please refrain from allowing false information to take control of what the true events are. This was an extremely traumatic event.  Please understand that me and my girlfriend need time to cope with what happened and heal from it.

I know that there will always be questions that come from a situation like this. However, I would greatly appreciate it if everyone respected my privacy, so I can continue to focus on my mental health and move forward.

Incident Fallout

Officer Hernandez, an El Paso, Texas, native and graduate of Americas High School in 2006, was remembered for his service and sacrifice. His loss has reignited conversations about the challenges law enforcement officers face daily and the broader issues of mental illness and recidivism within the criminal justice system. LCPD Chief Jeremy Story lamented the murder as a stark reminder of these systemic failures.

The community mourned Hernandez’s passing with his body being escorted back to his hometown of El Paso. Chief Story, while expressing grief over the incident, called for a focus on the community’s healing and refrained from further discussion on systemic issues until a later time.

This incident has sparked a wide range of reactions, from gratitude towards Astorga for his courageous act to renewed calls for addressing the underlying societal issues that contributed to this tragedy. While Atorga’s actions weren’t able to ultimately save the officer’s life, he certainly saved his own, his girlfriend’s and potentially others. The heroism displayed in the face of unspeakable violence remains a poignant reminder that armed citizens can and do play a vital roll in all of our communities.

 

 

Here’s a video of a press conference held by Las Cruces Police Chief Jeremy Story in which he discusses a plan for improving safety in the town in the wake of Officer Hernandez’s killing. Video from Officer Hernandez’s body worn camera is shared of the incident in this video.

Editors Note: We warn you this video is hard to watch, but should serve to put a fire in anyone who sees it to do all we can to ensure safer communities, not communities where low level offenses such as vagrancy, trespassing, petty theft and drug use are tolerated. It also serves as a glaring example of how quickly an attack can unfold and catch even the best trained among us off guard. Always be vigilant.

 

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