SFUAD Student Apprehends Shoplifter During Lockdown

Chris Dorantes, photography senior, is a veteran of 21 years. Photo by Maude Metcalf

On Feb. 15, Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus was put on lockdown after suspected shoplifter Joseph Madrid allegedly stole a knife from the Kmart on St. Michael’s Drive and came onto school grounds. Interim Director of Facilities and Security Stephen Posey put the campus on lockdown for approximately 30 minutes while the following events took place.

After the initial theft, Madrid biked toward the College Plaza Shopping Center on Cerrillos Road, turning down the alley behind the Ace Hardware. As he reached Smith’s Grocery Store, Madrid jumped off his bike, scaled the six-foot wall that separates the shopping mall from the SFUAD campus and began running. It was then that police phoned Campus Security. Moments later, students received a text message that the campus was on lockdown.

Photography senior and army veteran Chris Dorantes was eating lunch in his car during the lockdown. He tells Jackalope Magazine that he saw Madrid running past the Marion Center for Photographic Arts. Once he realized Madrid was the man the police were chasing, Dorantes got out of his car. “There was a cop car coming down the road and there was a cop on foot who had jumped the wall,” he recalled. The two police officers were talking to each other near the Greer Garson Theatre, approximately a hundred yards from Dorantes, who began waving his arms in an attempt to “flag them down.” Meanwhile, Madrid ran into the residence area of the Santa Fe Art Institute, a winding area that Dorantes describes as having “many hiding spots.”

Chris Nail says he saw Chris Dorantes take Joseph Madrid to the police. Photo by Lexi Malone.

Once the police saw Dorantes, they rushed over to him and began looking for Madrid. At this point, more police officers began to arrive on the scene. Dorantes estimated about five were looking for the suspect. “I told them ‘he didn’t turn the corner, but he’s in this area right here somewhere,’” referring to SFAI. However, police officers began searching another area further down the road. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, Dorantes chased after Madrid who he found trying to convince a SFAI resident to let him into the building. “I put my hand behind my back to make him think I had a gun,” Dorantes said. He then told Madrid to get up against the wall, after which Dorantes put the suspect into a “wrist break hold” so he couldn’t get away. Dorantes led Madrid out of the SFAI residents area and waved down a maintenance worker who during lockdowns doubles as extra security. The maintenance worker then alerted the police to the location of Madrid, who was taken into custody.

The police report for the incident doesn’t mention Dorantes’ involvement, stating that “the suspect male was observed by himself, on his knees and hands behind his back.” The officers involved in the incident could not be reached for comment. However, witness and SFUAD Photography faculty member Chris Nails confirms that he saw Dorantes apprehend Madrid. “I saw [Dorantes] put [Madrid] on his knees and cops running from every direction… He definitely had [Madrid],” Nail says. Posey says that while he is glad Madrid was apprehended he “does not condone [Dorantes’] actions” and that students should take shelter during lockdowns rather than getting involved.

Steven Posey is dedicated to keeping campus safe. Photo by Charlotte Renken.

This incident brings up some of the challenges Security faces with having an open campus. SFUAD maintains a desire to remain open to the public in order to serve the community. However, that openness comes with an added need for security. “The challenge is making sure that people who are on campus have a valid reason for being on campus, which is why we have a guard at the front gate,” Posey says and went on to address the back entrance to campus, which used to be manned but due to student complaints, no longer has a guard. Security has also recently acquired vehicles to get around campus faster during emergency situations such as the lockdown. “The irony of the situation is that even if we were a closed campus, it wouldn’t have prevented this incident because the suspect jumped over a six foot wall.”

Anyone wanting to know more about the events of Feb. 15 or Security protocol should contact Safety and Security Manager Larry Samuel at Larry.Samuel@santafeuniversity.edu or Posey at steven.posey@santafeuniversity.edu. Those living, studying, and/or working on the SFUAD campus should also download the LiveSafe app to keep updated on security alerts or to submit any current or potential threats.