AZTEC, N.M. (KRQE) – New video out of northwest New Mexico shows San Juan County Deputies and New Mexico State Police pursue a man trying to flee in a stolen tractor. In early June, the owner of Aztec Rent Me reported his brand new John Deere backhoe loader missing. A detective with the San Juan County Sheriff’s office knew 37-year-old Caleb Hardman had recently “got out of prison for stealing a large piece of equipment just like this” and wanted to find him for questioning.
The detective says he observed Hardman outside his home get into the John Deere and leave. When the detective tried to pull Hardman over, he says Hardman fled into the hills south of Bloomfield.
Detectives say Hardman made it clear he wasn’t going to make it easy on them by, flipping off officers several times. Then, things got physical.
Detectives say Hardman tried to ram a New Mexico State Police unit. They say he also tried to run over a State Police Officer who was approaching Hardman with a bean bag gun.
At that point, detectives say one detective fired three rounds into the tires of the tractor. The NMSP officer fired beanbag rounds at Hardman while he was still in the cab of the tractor. He was hit by a beanbag round.
Hardman exits the tractor with his hands behind his head. However, deputies say he stepped onto the ground and “he flailed his arms around Lt. Reiker in what was an obvious attempt to flee.” Hardman was then taken to the ground and taken into custody without significant injury.
Hardman has a long history of burglary and theft charges dating back several years. He is still behind bars in the San Juan County Jail.