Records: Deputy told officers, 'I shot the guy'

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico sheriff's deputy was talking to his girlfriend on the phone when the woman heard someone's pleas and then gunfire ring out. Soon after, Tai Chan, who's accused of killing a fellow deputy, told officers, "I shot the guy."

The revelations come in court documents and 911 recordings released Wednesday that described a tumultuous scene at the upper-end Hotel Encanto in the southern New Mexico city of Las Cruces. Investigators tried to piece together why a Santa Fe County deputy ended up dead after a night out drinking with a colleague.

While Chan's girlfriend was on the line, she heard someone say, "Please don't, please don't," and then gunshots erupted, the documents said.

Authorities accuse Chan of fatally shooting Deputy Jeremy Martin at the hotel after they drank at a nightspot and got into a heated argument Monday night, authorities said. They were staying at the hotel after dropping off a prisoner in Arizona, police said.

Chan's attorney, John Day, called the shooting a "tragic situation for everybody involved."

Before the shooting, Chan called a friend to pick up him and Martin to go drinking at Dublin's Street Pub, according to the criminal complaint. It was one of three restaurants the pair visited. At the pub, the two deputies got into an intense argument and began "pointing fingers at each other."

The friend, identified as Josh Sexauer, told investigators he had never seen Chan "hostile like that before and that the bartender had to separate them at one point."

It was unclear why the two were arguing.

The two deputies went back to the hotel and continued arguing until gunfire rang out. As Martin tried to flee into an elevator, he was shot in the back and arms, authorities said.

A number of witnesses said they heard several shots and a male voice yelling.

Officers who arrived at the hotel found Martin staggering off the elevator with multiple wounds, Las Cruces police said. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Chan was later found in a stairwell with a Glock semi-automatic handgun, the complaint said. He was slurring his words and smelled of alcohol, police said.

Chan pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance via video Wednesday afternoon. He's facing a murder charge and is being held without bond in the southern New Mexico city of Las Cruces.

His family appeared in court but left without making any statement.