Gas leak cause of courthouse evacuation

PNT Staff Report

The Roosevelt County Courthouse was evacuated late Tuesday morning while a gas leak was being investigated, according to County Manager Charlene Hardin.

The evacuation cleared the district courtroom where jury selection was in progress for the first-degree murder trial of Demetrio Salas, 21, and David Griego, 31, of Clovis. The two are charged in the shooting death of 10-year-old Carlos Perez of Clovis.

“We’ll have a jury selected by the end of the day as long as we don’t have any more gas leaks, or who knows what else,” defense attorney Roger Bargas said as potential jurors settled back into the courtroom at 1 p.m.

Perez was killed in September 2005 while he slept next to his then 16-year-old brother, who police say was the intended target.

The trial was moved to Portales because of it was highly publicized in Clovis.

The courtroom and other offices in the courthouse were evacuated around 10:30 a.m. after gas was smelled in and around the building.

Courthouse workers returned before noon but the courtroom recessed until 1 p.m.

Hardin said the leak was apparently at extremely low levels and didn’t even register on PNM’s detection equipment.

“We had one small leak and we’ve fixed that,” Hardin said.