An Española man shot in his face by police while holding a gun in November was mistakenly released by jail authorities a short time later, and has committed at least four new felonies while on the run, officials said.
Jerome Naranjo, 38, was inadvertently freed from the Rio Arriba County Adult Detention Center despite a judge’s earlier order mandating Naranjo be held on numerous charges including aggravated assault on a police officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and drug trafficking, court records show.
Naranjo had been involved in two armed confrontations with police before his November arrest, authorities said. Since becoming a fugitive from justice, Naranjo has committed at least four crimes including residential burglary and a domestic violence crime, police said.
“He’s a dangerous individual who’s been somewhat elusive,” said Española Police Chief Mizel Garcia. “We will arrest him.”
Naranjo’s criminal history in the Española Valley is extensive, records show.
On Nov. 22, Naranjo was involved in a domestic incident with a woman at 135 B Calle Del Sol, answered the door with a gun when police knocked, and was shot in his face during an armed struggle, police body camera footage shows.
Naranjo suffered significant blood loss from through-and-through bullet wounds to his face. Still, he managed to walk out of the county jail a short time later due to an unexplained error by authorities.
The fugitive has proven difficult to capture in the past. In June 2021, a New Mexico State Police officer and Española Police officers tried to execute an arrest warrant on Naranjo, who lived in Chamita.
Naranjo wanted at the time for stabbing a man in Española, pointed a handgun at the state policeman, authorities said.
In response, the officer fired at least one shot at Naranjo, who fled but was later arrested. Neither Naranjo nor the officer was struck by gunfire.
After his capture in La Mesilla in August 2021, Naranjo was charged with crimes in multiple cases, including aggravated assault on a police officer, kidnapping and drug trafficking, records show.
Garcia said anyone who spots Naranjo should immediately call 911.
“He’s a danger to the community,” Garcia said.