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Suspect in La Plata Co. jail escape, shooting of NM officer arrested in Phoenix

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 18:24:33-05

DENVER – A man who escaped from the La Plata County jail in late December and is believed to have shot a New Mexico police officer nearly two weeks later was arrested Friday in Phoenix.

Farmington (N.M.) police said Friday Elias Buck, 22, was arrested at a convenience store in Phoenix shortly after midnight Friday.

He had been sought by authorities since his Dec. 27 escape from the La Plata County jail, where he had been in custody after being arrested for alleged motor vehicle theft in early December.

He had been a “trustee” at the jail who was allowed to work around the jail before his escape.

On Jan. 7, Buck allegedly shot Farmington (N.M.) Police Officer Joseph Barreto in the arm after Barreto pulled his vehicle over for a suspected DUI. He fled the scene afterward.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said Buck’s arrest was the culmination of an emotional week for the department.

“We look forward to working closely with the District Attorney as this case moves through the courts, so we can achieve our goal of holding all people involved in this incident accountable and keeping our citizens and officers safe,” Hebbe said.

The U.S. Marshals Service had offered a reward of up to $10,000, and the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office a $5,00 reward, for information leading to Buck’s arrest. The sheriff’s office said Friday the details of the reward entitlement were unknown.

The pending charges against Buck and his extradition was also not clear as of Friday afternoon, the sheriff’s office said.