Undersheriff subdues hatchet-wielding woman

CORRECTION: Valley Publishing apologizes for publishing an incorrect photo with this story in the print edition of this week's Center Post Dispatch.

SAGUACHE — Saguache County Undersheriff James McCloskey took a calculated risk last week while dealing with a woman who came after him with an axe, but his decision to disable and subdue her fortunately resulted in an arrest without further incident.

According to a report from the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office, McCloskey first encountered Christina Lutz, 35, on July 31 when she was ordered out of the Saguache Town Market on Highway 285. Lutz, who had been sleeping in her vehicle with her dog, then moved the vehicle to 4th Street in the 300 block of downtown Saguache.
Lutz said she could not get her Jeep to start but did not want any help. In his report, McCloskey commented that her dog appeared to be lethargic.
The next day, Aug. 1, McCloskey once again checked on Lutz and her dog, asking if she had food and water for the animal. She said she did and McCloskey told her if she needed water she could fill her jugs up at the sheriff’s office and he would buy her some dog food.
McCloskey then asked Lutz, who was standing outside her vehicle, if she had any family or friends he could call who could perhaps help her out and that is when she “went crazy, saying she was going to kill me,” McCloskey wrote in his report. Lutz then headed toward her vehicle, and McCloskey ordered her to stop. She ignored the command, reaching into the vehicle and pulling out a tactical hatchet, then squaring off with McCloskey.
After telling Lutz she was under arrest and ordering her several times to drop the hatchet, Lutz charged at McCloskey, who drew his steel baton and began moving backwards to better fend off any strikes. While he was calling for back-up, Lutz advanced on him and swung the weapon, breaking his baton in two.
“At that point I had one of two options to save my life — draw my service pistol and shoot her or go [after her] hands on.” McCloskey chose the latter, grabbing her by the hand that held the weapon while punching and striking at her legs. Lutz continued to struggle but McCloskey finally pushed her backwards toward a building and was able to wrestle her to the ground.
Seeing McCloskey struggling with the woman, a Saguache firefighter ran over from the fire station to help McCloskey and the two men were finally able to subdue her. Lutz was then handcuffed.
After being transferred to the Saguache County Jail, mental health was consulted and Lutz was taken to Rio Grande Hospital in Del Norte for evaluation. She later was transferred to a mental health facility in Denver.
Lutz was charged with first-degree assault. She has prior charges of assault and criminal mischief. Lutz’s dog ran from the scene and could not be located, but McCloskey said if he was found, arrangements would be made to take him to a shelter.
The only injury McCloskey received was a slight cut to the middle finger of his right hand. The incident was not caught on video, he said, because his personal recorder was charging at the sheriff’s office.
Lutz’s vehicle was impounded at Southside Salvage in Alamosa.

© 2019-Center Post Dispatch

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