GAMALIEL AREA MAN ARRESTED AFTER RACING AT DEPUTY WITH AN ATV
Edward John Mendoza
The Sheriff's Office has arrested 69 year old EDWARD JOHN MENDOZA of the Gamaliel area on an Aggravated Assault charge after he raced an all terrain vehicle (ATV) directly at a Sheriff's Deputy this afternoon on Baxter CR 43.
The Chief Deputy, Captain Jeff Lewis, was in the 4500 block of Baxter CR 43 with a jail inmate work crew at approximately 12:54 PM today, having just finished mowing the Williams Cemetery. While standing outside the work van, Captain Lewis heard an all terrain vehicle approaching on CR 43 headed West coming toward the work crew. When the operator of the ATV, later identified as EDWARD JOHN MENDOZA, rounded the curve and came within view of Captain Lewis and the Sheriff's Office work van, which is fully marked and decaled as a Sheriff's vehicle, he skidded to a stop in the middle of the roadway. Captain Lewis tried to motion MENDOZA to continue forward, but he refused to move and just sat there. As Captain Lewis began to walk toward MENDOZA, who was about 50 feet away, MENDOZA reached into his front waistband and appeared to be trying to either conceal or retrieve something. MENDOZA was wearing jeans and was shirtless. Captain Lewis ordered MENDOZA to show his hands, which he did.
Captain Lewis, wearing a standard Sheriff's Office administration uniform with badge and patches clearly visible, verbally identified himself as being a Sheriff's Deputy and asked MENDOZA where he was going on the ATV and why he was operating it on the public roadway. MENDOZA stated he was "going fishing at the lake" and that he lived back up the road from where he came. Captain Lewis told MENDOZA that he had been acting as though he was retrieving a firearm or something when reaching into his waistband, and MENDOZA acknowledged verbally that he had a firearm in his possession. Captain Lewis did not, however, visually see a firearm. While briefly continuing the discussion, MENDOZA said "I've had enough of this", and he then re-started the ATV. MENDOZA rapidly accelerated forward on the gravel roadway, purposely fishtailing continuously, throwing rocks and gravel on Captain Lewis and also throwing rocks and gravel on the Sheriff's work van as he went past.
Captain Lewis advised Sheriff's Dispatch by radio as to what had occurred, and he asked that additional deputies respond to the area in an attempt to locate MENDOZA on the ATV. Approximately two minutes later, Captain Lewis heard the ATV coming back in his direction on CR 43. Captain Lewis stood out in the roadway to attempt to stop and detain MENDOZA. MENDOZA proceeded East bound on CR 43 at extremely high speed on the all terrain vehicle, charging straight toward Captain Lewis in the roadway. Captain Lewis jumped out of the roadway to get away from MENDOZA, and MENDOZA raced on past at extreme speed, having never even slowed down.
MENDOZA apparently went back to his residence, which was a short distance East of the Williams Cemetery. All information was relayed to Sheriff's Dispatch and to the other responding deputies.
While waiting for other deputies to arrive in the area, Captain Lewis began hearing gunfire coming from the area of MENDOZA'S residence. Several rounds would be fired at once, then a brief interlude, and then more rounds would be fired. In total, approximately 40 rounds were fired. The final volley could be heard striking limbs in the general vicinity of where Captain Lewis and the jail inmate work crew were at. Captain Lewis then moved himself and the work crew further away to the West to clear the area.
Once deputies arrived in the area, they quickly made contact with MENDOZA at his residence. Once the scene was secure, Captain Lewis went to the resident to make positive identification of MENDOZA.
At this point, EDWARD JOHN MENDOZA was arrested and taken into custody for his actions at approximately 1:34 PM. He was transported to the Baxter County Detention Center and booked on charges of:
Aggravated Assault - Felony
Reckless Driving - Misdemeanor
Operating ATV on Public Roadway - Misdemeanor
MENDOZA was released after posting $15,000 bond. He will appear before the Baxter County Circuit Court to answer on August 13th.
Seven Sheriff's Deputies and one Wildlife Officer with Arkansas Game and Fish responded to the area to search for MENDOZA and assist with his capture.
Sheriff John Montgomery