Frequent readers of my blog are much more familiar with images like the one above. I live in a very loose rural mountain area we collectively call Black Lake. I have joked about Tween and Twixt and Beyond Black Lake. Black Lake in the minds of its residents begins at El Bordo hill and runs south along hwy 434 and then 120 for some 20 or more miles not counting side roads. Many of those side roads are what we laughingly call rental car roads. Except for meadows it is almost all high mountain forest with remote "cabins" dotted at the ends of those rental car roads. There are definitely more cows and elk than people in Black Lake.
There are some huge homes sitting in the midst of large lots of uncleared land. And many of them are not occupied the majority of the year. Vacation homes! This was the area where the Joker, yes that is his nick name had his two female companions drive him before the car ran out of gas due to a high speed chase into the center of Black Lake. He and one of the women in the car escaped into the wooded area across from the closed Boy Boys Social Club. Nobody knows if she was an accomplice or a hostage. But police had to assume she was a hostage.
And so began our approximately 30 hours of terror. He was well armed with two hand guns, a knife and a Taser. And a face none of us will ever forget.
|Joker Rodriquez via krqe.com photo|
There are three ways out of the Valley of the Coyotes so road blocks are easy. And give those that live here mostly work in Angel Fire five miles away the first order of business was to keep any of those folk from going home. Several of my friends camped out with friends in greater Moreno Valley or at the Fire station. Even school buses were not allowed to take their charges home for fear the Joker had broken in to their houses and awaited their return.
Wednesday night I assured my sister who lives in San Fidel I was fine but I checked the guns and kept one by the bed while keeping my displaced friends in my thoughts. We have no local radio that I can get so my news is literally on Facebook and through friends there. I knew Thursday morning he had not been caught. I had a scheduled trip to Raton. I arrived home at 2:30 to find my little corner of Black Lake awash in black armored SUV's surrounded with men in full military assault garb and weapons. I was not allowed to go into my house until one of these men and cleared it. And so began my evening watching it all unfold while trying to stay away from windows and definitely not go outside.
|View through my studio windows|
Joker's mother, it so happens, owns the second house down from me. It is another of three duplexes on Llano Vista and is sometimes rented and sometimes not. Most of us residents like it when it is not. I suspect that Joker has stayed there from time to time. And maybe a few of his ex-con friends. It is forever known as the house where us neighbors with dogs have been threatened with what looked a lot like what the tactical team was carrying.
They busily went from door to door in teams of five armed men and cleared all the houses and assured us this would be over soon. Meanwhile they deployed the Men in Black cars strategically and prepared to set up road blocks again to limit access to the area and the felon's escape. By 9 something it began to go down with bull horns and flood lights and a helicopter over head washing the area with spot lights. Like a scene out of a war movie. I think I can relate to the citizens of Afghanistan.
And through it all we kept in touch on FaceBook, FB personal messages, and by telephone assuring ourselves and our friends that we were all still here, and so was the NMSP Tactical Team. THANK YOU!