Fremont County Attorney says January officer-involved shooting was justified
Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun has issued a statement regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on January 10th in Riverton. Two agents with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were involved in a gunfight after attempting to stop a suspect, identified as Nicholas Garcia. The suspect was fatally wounded. No agents, law enforcement officers, or bystanders were injured.
The full release from the County Attorney’s office is below in bold:
In the days prior to the shooting, a citizen familiar with Nicholas Garcia, advised law enforcement that Garcia had been receiving ammunition via common carrier delivery. The citizen advised that Garcia was angry at the police and threatened that he would engage in a gun battle, if he was ever stopped by the police. Garcia, who was a felon and registered sex offender, informed the citizen that he hated having to register as a sex offender, and blamed the police for his situation. Further investigation was conducted, and as a result, a federal search warrant was obtained for Garcia’s residence in Riverton. The warrant was based on the fact that Garcia was a felon, and thus prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition for firearms.
Owing to Garcia’s threats and the danger involved, a specific operational plan for execution of the warrant was developed. The plan involved a combination of Federal Law enforcement and the Riverton Police Department.
Prior to full implementation of the operational plan, Garcia left his residence which forced two ATF agents, by themselves, to follow Garcia in their unmarked vehicle. Garcia realized he was being followed and attempted to return to his residence. The agents observed Garcia repeatedly glancing in his rearview mirror of the Ford F250 he was driving. Because of the concern that weapons and ammunition were located in Garcia’s residence, and the advantage that Garcia would have at his residence, the agents made the decision to activate lights and siren to stop the vehicle at the corner of North 1st East and Monroe in Riverton, approximately 1 city block from Garcia’s residence. Riverton police had been notified, but had not yet arrived.
Garcia rolled his vehicle to a stop, immediately exited his vehicle with a black 9 mm, aimed his weapon at the agents and began firing. Garcia moved towards the agents as he fired. The agents retrieved their weapons and returned fire. Garcia returned to the front of his F250, gun still in hand, seeking a better tactical position. Garcia was mortally wounded, at this location, by the agents’ return fire. Neither agent was hit by Garcia’s bullets, although one of Garcia’s bullets came to rest inside a home nearby. Also, spent shell casings from Garcia’s weapon were recovered at the scene.
The exchange lasted for less than 15 seconds. Riverton Police Department Officers arrived shortly after the gunfire ceased. Life-saving efforts were under taken with RPD assistance, however those efforts failed.
After the fire exchange, Garcia’s F250 pick-up truck was searched. lnside the vehicle, a .308 PTR semi-automatic rifle was located, containing a full 20-round magazine, with a round in the chamber. Also located was a green tactical vest containing 2 additional 20-round .308 magazines and an additional 130 rounds of .308 ammunition. Garcia’s 9mm was located in the area near his body. One full 9mm magazine was removed from his pocket and another 9mm magazine was discovered in the immediate vicinity.
On January 10th, Nicholas Garcia ambushed and attempted to kill two ATF agents. The agents had the right, under Wyoming law, to defend their own lives and each others’ lives using deadly force. Further, these men had the right to continue using that force until it was clear Garcia’s intended course had been stopped. Both men acted reasonably at all times.
This Office shall take no further action.