ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The family of an Albuquerque man accused of critically injuring an Albuquerque Police Department officer in a hit and run crash says the suspect bolted from the scene because he was scared.
Albuquerque Police Officer Raymond Loomis remains in critical but stable condition following the Tuesday evening hit and run crash. Police arrested 21-year-old Thomas Stavros in relation to the crash late Tuesday night.
Wednesday, Stavros’ mother spoke to KRQE News 13 about what her son is accused of doing and why he ran.
“It would have all been OK if he had just stopped,” said Mary Jo Stavros, shaking her head while breaking down in to tears.
Mary Jo Stavros told KRQE News 13 early Wednesday morning that her son left the scene because he was scared and feared he was in trouble.
According to a criminal complaint, APD arrested Stavros about three and a half hours after the incident. After witnesses saw his license plate, police went to the home that the car was registered to. According to the complaint, Stavros’ relatives eventually told police the address of Stavros’ parents house near 98th and Gibson, where he was arrested. He’s now charged with leaving the scene of a crash that caused great bodily harm.
When officers spoke to Stavros, he admitted to hitting Loomis with his car. He told police that as he was driving westbound along I-40, traffic slowed and another car swerved into his lane. Stavros told police that he quickly looked left, then swerved his car to the left.
According to the complaint, Stavros heard his car collide with something and pulled over. Stavros told police that he saw a motorcycle rider down on the ground. What he didn’t know was that the motorcycle rider was Loomis, an off-duty APD officer. In his interview with police, Stavros also said he had taken methadone earlier in the day.
Stavros’ mother said Wednesday that her son admitted to her that he was involved in a hit and run crash before police came to speak with him.
“Yeah right away, he was forth coming and said that he got frightened and… he didn’t go to a friend’s house, he came back to home where he’s comfortable, you know?” said Mary Jo Stavros.
KRQE News 13 asked Mary Jo if she told her son that he needed to go to police. She said her son was ready to take responsibility for the crash on his own.
“Did you guys encourage him to say… you know you need to do the right thing to go to police or anything?” asked McKee.
“Oh he did that all on his own. Once he calmed down from whatever just happened, you know got a breath to think about it,” said Stavros
KRQE News 13 also spoke to one of Stavros’ neighbors Wednesday morning. John Lopez says he’s lived next door to Stavros for 10 years and watched him grow up.
“He was a star football player for them and all of the sudden he got expelled and his life just went crazy,” said Lopez.
Lopez says Stavros ran into problems in the last few years. He says the “hit-and-run” charge is a shock.
“That surprises me, I thought there was something else,” Lopez said. “I don’t think he would have … I would think he would have used better judgment, just stay there. What could they do? It’s an accident, it’s an accident.”
Stavros’ mother confirmed that her son went to Atrisco Heritage High and was at one time a talented football player. She told News 13 that after high school, a hand-injury lead to surgery and a problem with prescription drugs, which lead to crime.
“Good athlete, who knows what happened… who knows, it’s not like, he’s not this bad person,” said Mary Jo Stavros.
While Stavros has no juvenile record, adult courts show he’s had a series of recent criminal arrests for domestic violence against his parents, burglaries and traffic tickets related to speeding, licensing and registration records. In court Wednesday, a Metro Court judge found four bench warrants against Stavros.
Reacting to the crash and her son’s arrest, Mary Jo Stavros says she is praying for the officer’s recovery.
“Just… I just… I just want things to get better. I hope the man in the hospital… we’re praying for him,” said Mary Jo Stavros.
Wednesday afternoon, a judge set Stavros’ bond for the hit-and-run crash at $75,000 cash or surety. He’s also being held on a $7,500 cash or surety bond on an unrelated domestic violence case which he appeared in court for on Wednesday morning.
Raymond Loomis is a long-time traffic cop for APD who retired, then came back to work as a “re-hire.” He’s stationed at Metro Court. According to police, Loomis suffered head trauma from the incident and remains in the ICU in critical but stable condition.