Subject: UPDATE 1: State Police Officer Involved in Shooting that RescuesChild and Mother from Hostage Situation


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February 27, 2019


UPDATE 1: State Police Officer Involved in Shooting that Rescues Child and Mother from Hostage Situation


Las Cruces, NM – On February 27, 2019 at about 8:00 a.m. the New Mexico State Police was called to assist Border Patrol and Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office with a vehicle that bypassed the Border Patrol checkpoint by driving northbound in the southbound lanes of I-25.


Border Patrol initiated a pursuit on the vehicle and were quickly joined by Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office deputies. At around 8:04 the suspect vehicle stopped on the west shoulder of southbound I-25 around mile post 37. The suspect vehicle was occupied by three individuals, the male suspect driver, later identified as James Kirkland (39) of Kingman, AZ, his wife (victim) and their seven-year-old son. 


Once the vehicle stopped, his wife immediately ran from the vehicle. James Kirkland then armed himself with a firearm and barricaded inside the vehicle, holding his son hostage. Officers on scene began negotiating with Kirkland to get him to peacefully surrender and release his son.  During the negotiations Kirkland made several statements towards officers indicating he was going to kill his son and then himself. He also placed his son between himself and officers. 


During the standoff, a State Police officer fired his department issued weapon striking Kirkland. Other officers and deputies on scene immediately rushed in to remove the child from the scene and to secure and render aid to Kirkland.  The child was safely rescued, and Kirkland was air lifted to an area hospital where he is being treated for injuries not believed to be life threatening. The child, wife, and officers were uninjured.


After Kirkland was transported by EMS helicopter, and the child and mother were safe, State Police Investigations Bureau agents learned that Kirkland and his wife were under investigation by the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office for an incident that occurred in Louisiana. Agents learned the wife indicated to her employer that she had been kidnapped by Kirkland.  Her employer called Louisiana detectives who were able to trace her phone to north of Las Cruces, NM.  Officers and deputies involved in today’s incident were unaware of the investigation and incident in Louisiana. 


State Police officers are at the hospital with Kirkland until he can be booked into jail.  Kirkland is facing numerous state and federal charges.  The child is in CYFD custody and the female victim is receiving medical treatment for conditions not related to this incident. 


The identities of the victims or the current location of Kirkland will not be released by State Police.  The State Police officer who fired his weapon was placed on standard leave, and their name will not be released until interviews are complete.  State Police Investigations Bureau agents continue to investigate this case.  Additional information will be released when available.  


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Officer Ray Wilson

New Mexico State Police

Public Information Officer

Public Relations Outreach – Unit


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