Las Cruces man who allegedly shot at deputy dies at Dona Ana County jail

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A man who allegedly opened fire on a sheriff’s deputy in 2017 has died while in jail, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office said.

Zachary Barela, who was in custody for attempted murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer and shooting at a dwelling, got sick and collapsed in his cell at about 10:21 p.m. on Aug. 28, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Friday.

“Detention center staff responded with immediate medical attention and noted that Barela had not reported any recent issues to the medical provider at the jail,” the release said. “He was pronounced deceased, shortly after.”

His body has been sent to Albuquerque for an autopsy. No other details on his illness have been released.

In 2017, the sheriff’s office said deputies were dispatched to reports of gunshots in the area of Berry Patch Ln. and Isaacks Ave. northeast of Las Cruces.

When a deputy arrived, they approached a suspicious vehicle. The man inside, who was identified as Barela, reportedly got out of the car and fired a shotgun toward the responding deputy, the sheriff’s office said at the time.

The deputy returned fire at Barela before he ran away.

A Las Cruces K-9 unit was called in to assist in the hunt for Barela and he was eventually taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies. No injuries were reported to the deputy or Barela.

According to investigators, Barela was driving on a suspended license for failure to pay child support.

Barela had a court hearing, an evidentiary hearing, on Aug. 19. His next court date had not been set.

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