LOS LUNASWhat began as a report of a possible burglary turned into a long night for Los Lunas police. 

On the evening of Wednesday, April 24, a concerned resident on Sun Mesa Street in the Huning Ranch subdivision alerted police to a man climbing through a window into a neighboring residence.  

Los Lunas Police Special Investigations Lt. Nikki DeAnda said nobody was living in the home at the time, as the former renter was evicted the day before.  

Upon arrival around 6 p.m., an officer noticed a silver Hyundai parked in the driveway of the home. A dispatcher with the Valencia Regional Emergency Communications Center ran the plates, which revealed the car was reported stolen out of Albuquerque.  

According to the criminal complaint, a man holding a small dog, later identified as 25 year-old Eric Gabaldon, opened the door of the residence while officers were establishing a perimeter. When asked to step outside, he retreated back into the house and refused to come out.  

Eric Gabaldon

DeAnda said this led to more than a dozen law enforcement personnel being called out to the scene, including the SWAT team and K-9 officer because Gabaldon continued to barricade himself inside the residence despite numerous callouts to exit the home.  

According to the criminal complaint, an officer also made callouts advising Gabaldon a canine unit was on scene and to comply with commands of officers and he will not get bit.  

“From seven to nine callouts continued every five minutes requesting anyone inside to exit and nobody did,” said DeAnda. “We then requested assistance from the criminal investigative team to get a warrant, which we got later around 9 p.m.”  

DeAnda said they then sent in a drone inside the residence to get a better look of the interior and see if they could spot the suspect. She said the drone did not see him anywhere, so after hours of attempting to coax the suspect out of the house they decided it was time to send in the department’s canine, Jerry.  

Jerry located Gabaldon hiding inside a closet in a bedroom upstairs and a bite ensued. Officers followed the dog and were then able to apprehend Gabaldon at about 10 p.m. The SWAT team searched the rest of the residence and found no one else in the home.  

“Essentially, the use of force has to be reasonable and proportionate to the threat,” said Los Lunas Police Chief Frank Lucero. “We felt this person was a danger to the community and knew that we needed to get him into custody. There was a stolen vehicle, he was barricading and at that point it’s safer to send in the dog than it is to send in an officer.” 

Lucero said officers were out there for hours making announcements that chemical munitions could be deployed, so the suspect had ample opportunity to exit the home. Since the residence belonged to someone else, Lucero said they utilized the canine unit instead because the chemical munitions can cause damage to the property. 

DeAnda said Gabaldon was then transported to a hospital in Albuquerque where he received some stitches for his bite wounds. Gabaldon was handcuffed to his hospital bed upon arrival but later had the handcuffs removed at a nurse’s request for stitching a wound, the complaint said.  

“The nurses were bringing another patient through on a medical bed. At that time, Detective Jojola stepped and looked away from Eric (Gabaldon) to get out of the way of the staff. Eric then jumped off the medical bed and ran out the doors,” the criminal complaint read.  

Jojola chased Gabaldon roughly two blocks west of the hospital but lost sight of him after he ran into a backyard, the complaint states.  

DeAnda said police were unable to locate him that night, but he was found and arrested the next day at his residence in Belen.  

Gabaldon is currently booked in the Valencia County Detention Center and is charged with three felonies, including escape from custody of an officer, burglary of a structure and receiving and transfer of a stolen vehicle. He is also charged with resisting and evading as well as receiving stolen property, both misdemeanors.  

“We appreciate the observant neighbor who called with their concerns,” said DeAnda. “We want to thank everyone for their patience because sometimes SWAT standoffs involving barricaded subjects can take a while, and we know people want to get back to their residence.” 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.