Armed Citizen Defends Himself, Others From Police Impersonator

Residents inside an apartment in Espanola, New Mexico were forced to defend themselves from two men posing as law enforcement who tried to break into their home in the early morning hours of August 8th.


Natasha Decosta reported to police someone was trying to break into her apartment at the Vista del Rio Apartments on Avenida Cañada.

“Someone is trying to break into an apartment, she advised they are pounding on the door, kicking the door trying to get in,” dispatch logs state. “There are two guys who don’t live there and they are saying they are from (FBI High Intensity Drug Task Force) Region Three. She doesn’t think they are cops.”

The men who were trying to get into the apartment were not law enforcement, Apodaca said, although they did identify themselves that way to Decosta and other tenants.

31-year old Daniel Padilla was one of the two suspects, and according to Espanola PD Sgt. Jeremy Apodaca, he had armed himself with a pellet gun with a laser pointer taped to the barrel in an attempt to make the tenants inside believe he was armed. Turns out, that was a fatal mistake.

Alex Lucero, who lived at the apartment, was armed, and tried to stop Padilla from coming inside, Apodaca said.

“(Padilla) kicked the door open, that’s when the tenant saw the barrel of the gun come through the door,” Apodaca said. “The tenant announced several times that he was armed, and that’s when the offender went into the living room, just stepping through the doorway and being that he was armed, the tenant protected himself with his own weapon.”

Lucero tried to help the intruder after shooting him, applying a makeshift tourniquet to the suspect before police and medics arrived, but Padilla was pronounced dead at a local hospital.


According to Sgt. Apodaca, no charges will be pursued against Lucero, who was acting in self-defense.

Padilla told officers there had been another man with him, but Apodaca said he was unsure if Padilla had provided the other suspect’s name before being transported to the hospital.

Lucero is not expected to face any charges.

“You do have the right to protect yourself and your family, and being that this person was armed, (Lucero) pretty much took the appropriate actions from my understanding,” Apodaca said. “He announced that he was armed, he announced not to come into his house and (Padilla) still came in with a weapon.”

According to the Rio Grande Sun, Padilla was a college graduate who was studying to earn his master’s degree in psychology. It’s a sad end to what could have been a promising future for Padilla. We may never know what prompted the psychology student to try to break into the home posing as an FBI officer, but that bad decision came with fatal consequences.

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