Fort Sumner man shot following chase

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

A 23-year-old Fort Sumner man is in “serious but stable” condition at University Medical Center in Lubbock after he was shot Monday by a De Baca County deputy following a chase that started near Lake Sumner.

Michael Christopher Fitschen of Fort Sumner was being pursued in connection with a stabbing. State Police Capt. Jimmy Glascock said no charges have been filed in connection with the stabbing and the investigation is ongoing.

A section of U.S. 60/84 from Melrose to about three miles east of the village will remain closed, possibly as late as mid-morning today, Glascock said, so a state police aircraft can take aerial photographs of the scene.

Motorists needing to travel the route are encouraged to plan an additional 30 minutes to compensate for a detour, he said.

The victim of the stabbing, 39-year-old Michael Steiltner of Fort Sumner, is being treated at Plains Regional Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries, Glasock said.

Around 12:51 p.m., Glascock said state police and motor transport officers from Clovis were dispatched to U.S. 60/84 to aid in stopping the pursuit.

Glascock said officers stopped traffic in the area and an officer attempted to deploy a “stop stick,” sometimes referred to as a spike strip in the road.

Fitschen attempted to avoid the device and left the roadway, rolling the Ford pickup he was driving, Glascock said.

The vehicle ended up south of the highway and Fitschen climbed out and began advancing on two deputies involved in the pursuit, Glascock said.

“The officers were giving him orders to get on the ground and he was not complying,” Glascock said.

Glascock said “the subject started advancing toward the officer and a deputy with the De Baca County Sheriff’s Office fired a shot, striking the adult male subject.”

Glascock said Fitschen was shot in the abdomen and the second deputy deployed his Tazer, though it is unclear at this time if the Tazer made contact with Fitschen.

The deputies are not being identified at this point in the investigation, Glascock said.

The De Baca County deputy who fired on Fitschen was transported to Plains Regional Medical Center for evaluation and later released.

Glascock said the state police investigations bureau will be handling the shooting investigation and may take over the full investigation, including the stabbing, which was initially responded to by De Baca deputies.

The pursuit began at 12:41 p.m. near mile marker four on U.S. 84, when De Baca deputies spotted a vehicle matching one from a report of stabbing at a residence near Lake Sumner about 10 minutes prior.

The pursuit continued east on U.S. 60/84, coming to an end with the crash, which occurred close to State Road 267, just east of Melrose.

A dispatcher for De Baca County said Monday night the stabbing, pursuit and shooting were expected to be handed over to state police for investigation.

A detour has been created about three miles east of Melrose on U.S. 60/84 going north, then west along county roads, coming south on State Road 268.