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Father of victim robbed at knifepoint arrested for firing weapon

Officers investigating incident near Northeast Kmart

The father of an alleged robbery victim took matters into his own hands Wednesday night and opened fire at the suspects. Now, he is facing aggravated assault charges.

According to police investigators, two pre-teen boys were walking along the 9400 block of Vicksburg to a nearby park when they were robbed at knifepoint by three other teenage boys.

“It was scary because at the moment I didn't know what was going on; I was just panicking and in shock,” said Miguel Gallegos, the father of one of the victims.

A witness to the robbery who did not want to be identified said she saw the entire thing happen but thought the boys were just rough-housing at first.

She started to drive away and that’s when the two victims ran up to her car and told her what happened.

The witness, who works for the federal government and is a military veteran, called police and then gave the boys her phone to call their fathers.

The father of one of the boys, Christopher Apodaca, 33, drove to the park where the boys were robbed. He then allegedly drove around the area looking for the attackers with the boys in the car.

Investigators said Apodaca spotted the boys getting into a car at Sanders Avenue and Shoppers Road.

Apodaca, who was armed, pointed his gun at the car and ordered everyone to the ground, police said. The driver started to speed away and Apodaca fired several rounds at the vehicle.

“He took I guess matters into his own hands and I guess he tried to protect his son,” Gallegos said.

CBS4 was at the scene as police investigating the shooting put up crime tape. Several El Paso police units blocked off a portion of Sanders Avenue near Kmart and the post office.

Witnesses said they heard gunshots in the area.

A person who was sitting on the ground in custody is believed to have been Apodaca.

The two 16-year-olds and one 11-year-old accused in the robbery were taken into custody and turned over to the Juvenile Probation Department.

Police said three other people who were not involved in the robbery were in the car: a 15-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl and a 6-month-old infant.

No one in the car was injured, police said.

Apodaca was arrested when police arrived. He is charged with three counts of aggravated assault. He was booked into the El Paso detention facility on a $30,000 bond.

The two 16-year-olds and one 11-year-old accused in the robbery were taken into custody and turned over to the Juvenile Probation Department.

El Paso Police Department spokesperson Enrique Carrillo says it’s never a good idea to chase after the suspects of a crime.

Carrillo said the initial 911 call for the robbery came in around 7:09 p.m. but no units were available to respond. A unit started heading to the scene a little after 8 p.m., according to police and the officers heard the gunfire.

Carrillo said the shortage of officers in the El Paso Police Department contributes to these delayed response times.

“When they were getting assaulted a police officer didn't show up. That makes me upset,” Gallegos said.

Carrillo said that while this was considered a high-priority call, no one was injured and the suspects had fled the scene so there was no immediate danger.

He says chasing after a suspect puts people in danger. Instead, Carrillo recommends victims of crime do the following things:

-- Call the police and wait for them to respond.

-- Write down the license plate number of the car the suspect is driving away in.

-- Write down a description of the car and the suspects themselves.

-- Take note of the direction the suspects were heading.

Carrillo said it’s important for people to be patient and understand that EPPD is doing the best it can to answer every call.

To fill the police shortage, EPPD is hoping to have 100 cadets in its June class, the largest the city has ever had at one time.

“I’m going to talk to him about stuff like this happening and I'm just glad he's OK. I'm not mad at him and I don't care about the stuff that he's missing,” Gallegos said.

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