LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The man blamed for a hostage situation at a pistachio farm Sunday allegedly shot at police after leading officers on a high speed chase, New Mexico State Police officials said Monday.
Investigators charged Kaleb Scroggins, 21, of Alamogordo, with two counts of Aggravated Assault upon a Police Officer, Shooting at inhabited dwelling or Occupied Building, Breaking and Entering, Aggravated fleeing a Law Enforcement Officer and Criminal Damage to Property.
Scroggins was allegedly involved in a hostage situation at the McGinn's Pistachio farm, located at 7320 Highway 54/70 in Alamogordo on June 18, 2017.
"Obviously, it's a tough thing," said Tim McGinn, owner of McGinn's Pistachio farm. "It’s a serious thing if something like that’s happening at your business to people that you care about.”
Investigators say Scroggins was a suspect in a shooting earlier that day in Alamogordo. Police looking for Scroggins received a tip on his whereabouts and a vehicle pursuit ensued when police spotted his vehicle, officials said.
Scroggins' vehicle was "t-boned" while he allegedly tried to evade officers on Dog Ranch Road. Following the crash, Scroggins and police exchanged gunfire and Scroggins ran into the McGinn's store, where he allegedly took 14 hostages, one of which was a three-year old.
McGinn's father moved west to start the farm and eventually passed on the business to his son, Tim.
“It was his dream to be a farmer," McGinn said. "So he came from corporate food production business and we moved to beautiful, high desert New Mexico.”
After the senior McGinn passed away, his son built the world's largest pistachio to remember him.
“He dreamed big, and so I wanted to build the giant pistachio for him," McGinn said.
During the course of hostage negotiations, police were able to safely rescue all hostages. Scroggins surrendered a short time later and was taken to an area hospital where he was treated and cleared for arrest.
Mr. Scroggins was booked into Otero County Detention Center.
McGinn confirmed his shop will be open soon.
"We’re closed and we’re very happy that our employees are okay and that the visitors who were here at the time were okay," McGinn said.
There was minimal damage to the pistachio shop - McGinn confirmed just "dustpan and broom" was left in the clean-up process.
"We want to get back to normal life of course," the pistachio farm owner said.