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Press Release

Shiprock Man Pleads Guilty to Assault and Federal Firearms Offense

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced that Deon Joe Bidtah pled guilty to all three counts of the indictment charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, and assault on a federal officer with a deadly and dangerous weapon. Bidtah, 24, of Shiprock, New Mexico, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

According to court records, on Oct. 11, 2022, Bidtah approached a vehicle near his residence in Shiprock and fired two rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun into the vehicle. The driver, Jane Doe, was struck and injured by the gunfire. Three of Jane Doe’s family members were in the vehicle at the time. Jane Doe suffered great bodily harm and was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Navajo Nation police officers responded to the incident location, including one officer who, by virtue of a special law enforcement commission, is considered a federal officer. Bidtah approached the officers carrying the 12-gauge shotgun and fired toward the officers. Officers took cover behind their patrol units and commanded Bidtah to stop and drop his weapon, however Bidtah ignored the commands, reloaded the shotgun, and continued to walk towards the officers. In response, officers fired two rounds at Bidtah. Bidtah was struck and was later transported to Northern Navajo Medical Center for treatment.

At sentencing, Bidtah faces at least ten years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.

The Farmington Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Nation Department of Investigation and Department of Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew J. McGinley is prosecuting the case.

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Updated November 6, 2023

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 23-261