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Press Release

Fruitland Man Charged with Assault and Federal Firearms Offense

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – A Fruitland man is facing federal charges following allegations that he and his brother instigated a confrontation at a residence which culminated in a standoff with law enforcement officers. Walliford Tso, 35, of Fruitland, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, appeared in federal court for an initial appearance where the Court temporarily detained him pending a detention hearing, which is scheduled for April 17, 2024.

The criminal complaint alleges that on March 23, 2024, Tso and his brother, Justin Tso, went to Jane Doe’s home in Fruitland, New Mexico. Justin entered the home and asked Jane Doe for a cigarette. When she told Justin that she had no cigarettes, Justin took a machete that was lying near the front door without permission and walked away.

When Jane Doe’s significant other, John Doe 1, yelled after the brothers, a verbal altercation followed. After the exchange, the brothers chased John Doe into the house. As Jane Doe was locking the door behind him, the brothers kicked in the door, entered the home and assaulted John Doe.

John Doe was able to get away and exited the house with Jane Doe and their small child. Jane Doe and John Doe called 911 using their cellphone. A Navajo Police Department officer arrived during the incident and detained Tso’s brother before searching for Tso. The search led him to Tso’s parents’ house about 200 yards away. The officer went around to the back of the house and observed Tso hiding behind a structure with a rifle in his hands. Tso raised the rifle and pointed it at the officer, who took cover and gave Tso commands to drop the weapon. Tso eventually obeyed and was taken into custody.

Tso is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. If convicted of the current charges, Tso faces up to 17 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office, made the announcement today.

The Farmington Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Police Department and Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Meg Tomlinson is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Updated April 17, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-150