Pecos grad, Marine Corps vet dead after firing at police on I-25

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Diego Gonzales, 27, died in a shootout with state police late Tuesday on an I-25 off ramp in Santa Fe. (Courtesy photo)

Diego Gonzales, a Pecos High graduate and a Marine veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, was killed — either by a state police bullet or a self-inflicted gun shot — shortly before midnight Tuesday on the Cerrillos Road off ramp off southbound I-25.

He eventually turned the gun on himself, but police will not conclude whether it was technically a suicide or if a state police bullet was the fatal shot until after an autopsy is conducted.

The 27-year-old had taken his 26-year-old wife — Ashley Varela-Gonzales, who is 9 months pregnant with the couple’s second child — and their 2-year-old son — Diego Jr. — from a home in Pecos around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday after an argument. Sometime between then and midnight, New Mexico State Police officer Bryan Waller found him driving south on I-25 toward Albuquerque, where Diego worked for TSA at the airport, and the officer tried to pull the three over.

Gonzales stopped his truck on the southbound Cerrillos Road exit (278-B) and, according to police, opened fire on the officer. A brief exchange of fire ensued and Gonzales eventually shot himself.

State police said they can not yet confirm if Gonzales was hit by the officer, but the family thinks he was hit at least once before he turned the gun on himself.

Waller is on standard 3-day paid leave after the shooting, but, fortunately, was not injured by any of Gonzales’ shots. Varela-Gonzales and Diego Jr. were also not physically harmed.

Gonzales served as a sniper for the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and was seeking treatment for PTSD, according to Lawrence Lujan, friend of his family and the Varela family.

Here are a couple quotes from Lujan from the article in Thursday’s New Mexican:

“He was owning up to the fact that he had problems he knew he had to fix to be the best dad he could be. He did his thing in Iraq, served this country, and did so honorably. God only knows what he saw. But he was affected deeply, and he was seeking treatment for PTSD.”

— and —

“We don’t know what happened that led up to all this, and when he saw those police lights, something might have triggered that made him do what he did. This doesn’t define him and isn’t what he’ll be remembered for. He was a husband, a father, a brother and a great friend — and this is just a difficult situation for all involved.”

And here is a link to a .pdf of the press release New Mexico State Police put out about the shooting Wednesday afternoon:

Funeral services for Gonzales were still pending late Wednesday night, according to Berardineli Family Funeral Services.

  1. Tim Maestas says:

    When the dam cops are going to stop someone and they see the vet license plate they should treat that traffic stop in a non defensive manner and do everything possible to preserve life I went to Marine Combat Training and SOI with him condolences to his family he was a great marine I have been looking for him for about two years now my name is Tim Maestas diego is my blood brother and I loved him dearly this is a fucked up day fuck the police .

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