Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Velarde volunteer firefighters broke down a door and jumped a fence to escape Monday after their acting chief allegedly came to a monthly meeting of firefighters drunk and packing heat.
Darwin Yazzie, 28, showed up at the fire station with guns and yelling, "Let's get it on," according to witness accounts.
He was arrested at his home at Ohkay Owingeh about four hours later. Tuesday night, he was in jail on five charges of aggravated assault, according to an arrest warrant that sets Yazzie's bond at $50,000.
Rio Arriba County officials called a news conference Tuesday afternoon to announce that Yazzie had been fired.
Department member Fabian Valdez, 20, said Monday's incident follows months of political divisions within the Velarde fire department that started after former chief Velarde was dismissed.
Yazzie was Velarde's deputy chief, and the controversy over Velarde has spurred a round of charges and counter-charges, in court and otherwise, with Yazzie and Velarde on one side and other county officials on the other. The imbroglio includes allegations the fire department leaders doublebilled for attendance at a training session, which Velarde has denied, according to reports in the Rio Grande Sun.
According to a Rio Arriba Sheriff's Office report, Yazzie came to the fire station Monday night with handguns and a rifle.
The county will also conduct a review of the Velarde department, which could include a recommendation of background checks for volunteer firefighters, according to County Assistant Manager David Trujillo. Trujillo mentioned background checks in response to a question about Yazzie's court record.
Santa Fe County's Jail database shows Yazzie has been booked four times for charges of aggravated DWI and once for a charge of disorderly conduct. Online court records show another case from 2008 in Espanola.