Lobo Spotlight: Z. Hector Terrazas
It takes students about five to six minutes to walk from Dane Smith Hall to the Student Union Building. It took UNMPD officer Z. Hector Terrazas six minutes to identify, pursue and arrest a suspect for stealing a bike.
It was around 11 a.m. on March 27 when Terrazas received a dispatch detailing a bike theft near the College of Education. The officer drove from his location on Las Lomas Road toward University Boulevard and Redondo Drive as the dispatcher described the individual for whom he was on the lookout. A witness said she saw a man cut the lock on a red “Trek” mountain bike and steal it.
She described the man as wearing black jeans, black or grey tank top, white tennis shoes, a baseball cap, somewhere between 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet tall, 180 to 200 pounds.
As Terrazas pulled into the parking lot north of the anthropology building, an individual fitting the dispatcher’s description rode past his car on a red mountain bike.
“She gave us a very precise description of the individual — our dispatcher laid that real clear to us and when I saw him cutting out from the building, I knew it was him,” Terrazas said.
The officer called in what he saw, pulled up alongside the suspect and asked to speak to the suspect in regard to his bicycle.
Terrazas said the suspect responded by making an obscene gesture and sped across Redondo Drive and across University Boulevard.
“This was congested with traffic and he went right through at a high rate of speed, right across vehicles — this guy really wants this bike,” he said.
Terrazas said he called all units as he followed the suspect, turning from his pursuit on University Boulevard to Sigma Chi Road. Another officer joined Terrazas, following behind as the suspect began to swerve through driveways and lawns. Terrazas pulled ahead of the suspect, blocking an alleyway to Medical Arts Avenue, as the supporting officer blocked the road from behind.
“He jumped off the bike and he tried to make a run for it and he tripped. At that time, the police officer behind me went in and went to grab him and I grabbed him — he put up a fight, we subdued him and we handcuffed him and we took him into custody,” he said.
Terrazas said the stolen bike suffered no major damage and was returned to the owner later that day.
“She was real happy, some of these bikes are not only property, but for some people, they’re transportation,” he said.
The man was arrested for theft and resisting arrest.
UNMPD Public Information Officer Trace Peck said Terrazas was lucky to have a witness to the crime speaking to a dispatcher throughout the incident. Peck said reported crimes on campus usually do not have key witnesses like this.
“Everything just fell in place, whether it be the witness seeing a crime or the officers getting the call and dispatch. Typically, we don’t see a lot of in-progress calls where someone will give this good of a description,” Peck said.