by Valerie Kimble

SOCORRO, N.M., Jan. 28 – The New Mexico Tech Campus Police are continuing their investigation into an attempted break-in on campus around 11 p.m. Saturday night, Jan. 26.

Campus Police Chief Billy Romero said the alleged male perpetrator gained access to the academic building, Cramer Hall, by breaking a window. Romero said students reported hearing noises, and looked outside to see a male suspect rattling door knobs, and that he was carrying what appeared to be a small handgun. The students spotted him inside the building before he fled.

In a twist of events, which Romero said may have been a diversion tactic preceding the attempted break-in, campus officers on regular patrol were investigating two suspected vehicle burglaries – and a vehicle fire – when the call came in from Cramer Hall.

City and State law enforcement agencies also responded to the radio call, and Romero ordered an immediate campus lock-down, which means no one can leave or enter the campus.

“Our first concern was the students,” Romero said. “Teams of officers went through every single building, every closet and basement in search of the suspect; our secondary search was for the alleged weapon.”

Police did arrest a suspect in whose possession were found air-soft cartridges for a device similar to those used for paint ball games.

The witnesses were unable to positively identify the man as the suspect; however, he was subsequently booked for public intoxication. His name is being withheld pending further investigation.

The campus lock-down ended around 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

Romero said nothing appeared to have been taken in the car burglaries, and that the Socorro Fire Department was called to extinguish the vehicle set on fire.

“Our primary concern is the students and their safety,” said New Mexico Tech president Daniel H. López. “As best as we can determine at this point, no one was endangered at any time during the incident,” he said.

“The response from both internal security and assistance from external police forces was very rapid, and we are pleased with the cooperation among our law enforcement agencies,” López said.

-- NMT --