A routine “bait car” operation to catch car thieves took a dangerous and terrifying turn Monday after a man who had stolen an APD-owned undercover car fired at officers who returned fire through their windshield while avoiding incoming rounds.
The Paper. previously reported that APD officers shot a man suspected of stealing an APD bait car. The man was treated for non-life threatening injuries but few additional details were released on Monday.
APD has since released more details of the operation and arrest that played out across Albuquerque’s east side Monday.
APD officers were alerted that a city-owned “bait car” had been entered and was moving in the area of Louisiana and Central Avenue Southeast. Bait cars are deployed by police as a lure for car thieves. Once a thief enters a vehicle, an alert is sent to police who can monitor the driver through hidden cameras and deactivate the vehicle remotely.
An APD supervisor monitoring the hidden camera inside noticed that the suspect had a firearm and alerted officers who devised a plan to disable the vehicle and conduct a high-risk traffic stop. But when officers began the stop the suspect turned and fired on them from inside his vehicle, through the bait car’s rear windshield, and into the APD cruiser behind.
Two officers inside returned fire through their windshield. One round struck the suspect in the chin. He later fled on foot and was captured.
The photographs released by APD captured both the moments the suspect began firing on officers and the multiple rounds entering and leaving the APD vehicle behind.
APD named the suspect as Dalton Cunningham, 26, who they say had several outstanding felony warrants for unnamed crimes in Santa Fe and Española.