Apparent road rage incident ends with 15-year-old shot in head

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By Ryan Lowery

A high-speed car chase through the streets of west Las Vegas culminated in a 15-year-old boy being airlifted to Albuquerque with a gunshot wound to the head, and a Las Vegas man facing multiple felony charges.

Leopoldo J. Jaramillo III, 30, was booked into the San Miguel County Detention Center on Jan. 20 on a second-degree felony charge of shooting at or from a motor vehicle (resulting in great bodily harm), and a third-degree felony charge of aggravated battery for use of a deadly weapon. On Jan. 23, prosecutors filed an amended criminal complaint, adding four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, all fourth-degree felonies. Jaramillo was also cited for reckless driving.

According to a statement of probable cause filed in San Miguel Magistrate Court, on Jan. 19, four juvenile boys had been playing video games together when they decided to go for a drive. According to court documents, the driver of the SUV was a 15-year-old boy.

About 9:30 p.m., the four were traveling south on New Mexico Avenue, near Tony Serna Elementary, when they passed a truck traveling northbound. One of the boys threw a water bottle at the passing truck, apparently believing the truck was driven by a friend. Instead, Jaramillo was behind the wheel of the truck.

Jaramillo told police he saw the SUV driving toward him at a high rate of speed and as it passed him, he heard something hit his truck that made a “loud bang.” Jaramillo turned around and began chasing the SUV.

The juveniles and Jaramillo told police the chase wound through the neighborhoods along Tecolote Street, Romero Street and Kavanaugh Street before returning to New Mexico Avenue, where Jaramillo passed the SUV, cut it off and blocked the road. The driver of the SUV slowed down to go around the truck. That’s when passengers in the SUV say they heard a gunshot as the back window shattered.

According to a passenger in the SUV, the driver was bleeding from the head and his eyes rolled back as the SUV began to accelerate. The juvenile in the passenger seat grabbed the wheel and attempted to steer the vehicle, but lost control as it continued to accelerate. The SUV struck a mailbox and a concrete block before rolling, ultimately coming to a rest on its roof in a neighborhood just east of New Mexico Ave. Some of the crash was captured on surveillance video from a nearby business.

Jaramillo admitted to police that he pulled in front of the SUV to block it, telling officers he wanted to talk to the people in the SUV. He also admitted that when the SUV began to pass him, he grabbed his handgun (identified in court documents as .40-caliber Smith & Wesson) and fired a shot. He told police he didn’t remember what happened after he fired the gun.

Police located Jaramillo’s truck crashed without him inside, but he was arrested in the area. Police also located a spent .40-caliber round on New Mexico Ave., and following the execution of a search warrant on Jaramillo’s truck, police located a .40-caliber handgun as well.

The driver of the SUV was initially transported by ambulance to Alta Vista Regional Hospital, but was latter transported by helicopter to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. His condition was not known as of this writing.

Jaramillo is currently in custody at SMCDC. Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Clayton has petitioned the court to deny bail to Jaramillo citing that he poses a danger to the community.

Jaramillo was due to be arraigned in Magistrate Court on Thursday.