Taos Police Officers responded to multiple bank alarms at the Centinel Bank of Taos main branch early Thursday morning (April 19) and arrested Alejandro Alirez, a 20-year-old Las Vegas man who had allegedly broken in through a window and assaulted officers prior to his arrest.
Taos Central Dispatch notified law enforcement when the alarms were tripped around 2 a.m., according to a press release from Taos Police Chief David Trujillo.
Upon their arrival, they allegedly spotted a lone burglar, later identified as Alirez, crouched inside the bank behind the main glass door on the building's south side.
According to police, Alirez then made his way to the second floor of the bank and out onto a balcony at the southwest corner of the building, where he "armed himself with a fire extinguisher" and began discharging the canister at the responding officers.
He also hurled "a ladder, a metal rod, plants and a fire extinguisher" at police and their vehicles, according to the press release.
As the encounter escalated, Taos County Sheriff's Deputies were called to the bank to support the officers, who were by then making their way inside the bank and up to its second floor.
They encountered Alirez a second time in a haze of fire extinguisher powder near some administrative offices.
He had allegedly armed himself with knives, which officers believed he had taken from the bank's kitchen.
"Officers ordered the suspect to drop the knives and after several commands, and attempts to have him disarm, Alirez refused," Trujillo wrote in his release.
Sergeant Ronald Montes tasered Alirez, and then Officer Austin Barnes tackled the suspect.
While they struggled on the ground, Alirez allegedly "stabbed at" the officer's chest several times, but the blade failed to penetrate the metal plating inside the officer's vest, Trujillo said.
Barnes was not seriously harmed in the scuffle.
The officers wrestled the knives away from Alirez, cuffed him and placed him under arrest.
Alirez has been booked at the Taos County Adult Detention Center, where he has been charged with aggravated burglary, two counts of aggravated assault upon a peace officer and criminal damage to property, which Trujillo estimates will cost Centinel Bank thousands of dollars as a result of the early morning burglary.
Trujillo and other investigators were still at the bank as of 11 a.m. Thursday morning, interviewing security staff and reviewing surveillance footage.
Video allegedly shows Alirez first making entry to the bank by breaking a westside window with a metal rod, Trujillo said, but stealing nothing, save for a few muffins that had been set out for a staff meeting.
While leaving the bank Thursday morning, Trujillo told The Taos News that Alirez's motivations for the break-in were not yet clear. Trujillo said that battery charges may be filed after further investigation.
According to court records, Alirez does not have a prior record in either Taos County magistrate or district court. Trujillo also said that Sanches-Alirez is not known to his department.
Centinel Bank of Taos is the home of former CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey, a third-generation community banker who is now president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade organization representing 6,400 community banks throughout the country.
This is a developing story. For more, check back here at taosnews.com.