New Mexico State Police confirm death of man questioned in homicide

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The New Mexico State Police (NMSP) have confirmed the death of a 29-year-old Pagosa Springs man who they have stated was the primary suspect in a homicide that occurred on Sunday, March 11.

According to NMSP Public Information Officer Ray Wilson, NMSP officers were dispatched to a residence near Chama, N.M., around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, in reference to an unattended death.

Officers found 29-year-old Michael Moats, of Pagosa Springs, deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Wilson indicated in a statement to The SUN.

“He was one of several individuals questioned by [Colorado Bureau of Investigation] agents and local detectives this week in connection with the Ski and Bow Rack incident and was then released. The investigation is ongoing,” said Pagosa Springs Police Department (PSPD) Chief Bill Rockensock.

NMSP Investigations Bureau agents were alerted by PSPD detectives that Moats was the primary suspect on a homicide that occurred on Sunday, March 11, in Pagosa Springs, Wilson stated.

The NMSP has concluded its involvement in the case.

A Thursday press release from the Town of Pagosa Springs indicated law enforcement agents have been interviewing dozens of individuals in connection with the incident and are waiting for evidence from the crime scene to be processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations’ crime lab. This evidence processing will take several weeks, and may be longer.

The suspect is a white male, approximately five foot seven inches to five foot nine inches, with a slight to medium build. He was seen wearing a hooded camouflage jacket and possible snow pants. A possible vehicle is being sought in connection with the incident: a late 80s to late 90s white Toyota 4Runner or Nissan Pathfinder — very muddy, with possible homemade camouflage on the bottom of the vehicle and a roof rack.

The PSPD continues to work with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and detectives from the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office to investigate this incident.

To share any tips on Sunday night’s incident, please contact the new dedicated tip line via email at pagosapdcrime@gmail.com or phone at (970) 264-4151 ext. 243 if you have any information about the vehicle or the suspect.

The Sunday night incident resulted in the death of Larry Fisher, 71, owner of the Ski and Bow Rack. He was shot in the chest while interrupting a burglary.

He was flown to St. Anthony’s in Lakewood and passed away from his injuries the following morning.

A Tuesday press release from Town Manager Andrea Phillips explains that around 9:20 p.m., Fisher interrupted an attempted burglary at the store.

Fisher is believed to have been working late.

“He was shot in the chest by the suspect, who had a handgun, sometime between 9:20 pm and 9:30 pm,” reads the release. “Law enforcement was notified through a 911 call that was made at approximately 9:33 pm.”