On March 31, 2011 at approximately 1210 hrs, San Juan County deputies were dispatched to a residence in on County Road 2400 in the Cedar Hill are north of Aztec New Mexico. Calls had been made by family members of a resident in a home there stating that an individual threatening suicide.
“The suspect had called relatives in Colorado and informed them that he was going to kill himself,” explained Sergeant Kory Faulk. “The relatives also reported to dispatch that the suspect had an AK-47 Rifle.” Deputies tried unsuccessfully to contact the suspect by telephone while en route to the residence.
Upon arriving at the residence two deputies made contact with the suspect at the rear of the residence. “Michael O’Hare who resides at the home with two relatives was in the back yard of the residence when deputies arrived,” stated Sergeant Scott Facka. “He was carrying two machetes, one in each hand. He was waving them around in a threatening manner and banging them together. At one point he started to advance upon the deputies with them.”
O’Hare then turned and ran into the home. At this time a command post was set up on County Road 2400, approximately 100 yards south of the home and a staging area was set up another ½ mile south of that. The San Juan County SWAT Team and Lenco BearCat (Armored Vehicle) were called in. “We also set up a perimeter around the residence, evacuating anyone who was in residences nearby as a safety precaution,” said Lieutenant Brice Current.
Negotiations were started with the suspect. “I was able to make contact with the suspect by telephone. He kept telling me he wanted to visit his mother, who we were informed was deceased. He also shouted that he was going to come out of the residence armed and kill police officers,” continued Facka.
Throughout the negotiations it was determined that the safest course of action for both the deputies and the suspect was to bring in the BearCat. “The BearCat was driven to within five feet of the suspect’s door,” explained Current. “SWAT Team members were inside.”
At this time the suspect began continued entering and exiting the home. “He was carrying an AK-47 in his hands as he kept going back and forth,” said SWAT Team Member Shane Ferrari. “At one point he went up to the BearCat and within 10” of the front window aimed the rifle at the deputy sitting in the driver’s seat.”
As the suspect continued his trips of entering and exiting the residence, he was also aiming his rifle at the deputies on scene. At one point he leaned across a vehicle, used it as leverage and took aim at every member of the SWAT Team inside the BearCat. “What’s more he was nearing the BearCat each time he took his route in and out of the home,” explained Ferrari. “The SWAT Team members inside the armored vehicle were able to come up with several options on subduing him. We tossed around the idea of using the bean bag gun or using the tasers.” In the end it was the tasers that subdued the suspect.
“As the suspect neared an open window of the BearCat I was able to shoot him with the taser,” said Ferrari. Within seconds members of the SWAT Team jumped from the back of the BearCat and had the suspect subdued.
“I can honestly say that the BearCat saved the suspects life today,” said Current. “Because we knew the SWAT Team members were safe inside while the suspect was aiming the rifle at them we were able to make the decision to NOT shoot him and wait for the opportunity to disarm him safely.”
Michael O’Hare was taken into custody and charged with six felony counts of Aggravated Assault Against a Police Officer. “This could have turned out quite differently,” said Ferrari. “When this was over the victims relative came up to us and said ‘thank you for not killing him when you had a chance to’ that states it all, that is why we do what we do. We try for the peaceful ending if it is at all possible.”