New Mexico State police apprehend man suspected of killing his three neighbors in remote Custer County

YouTube screenshot
Custer County Sheriff Rich Smith speaks during a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023 about the capture of man suspected of killing three of his neighbors and wounding another on the day before. The suspect was found in New Mexico.

Updated at 5:34 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2023


New Mexico State Police on Tuesday afternoon captured the man suspected of fatally shooting three of his neighbors in Custer County Monday.

He was apprehended near Albuquerque driving a white pickup truck authorities had been searching for most of the day Tuesday. The manhunt for 45-year-old Hanme K. Clark lasted 25 hours and included Custer and Chaffee counties in Southern Colorado. He was apprehended without incident, according to Custer County Sheriff Rich Smith.

"It's the best resolution for us, is that nobody else got hurt, no cops got hurt and the suspect also didn't get hurt," Smith said.

Law enforcement are also questioning a woman who was in the truck with Clark. Officers found a weapon in the pickup truck, but it's not clear if it was the weapon used in the slayings, said Officer Wilson Silver with the New Mexico State Police.

Other neighbors not involved in the shooting have accused Clark of harassing them, denying them court-ordered use of part of his property to access their property, and posting signs saying he was armed, court records said.

According to Clark's arrest affidavit, a fourth victim, Patty Daulton, who was wounded in the shooting, called 911, saying she thought her husband and two other people had been shot to death. Gunfire could be heard in the background of the call, it said.

She was taken to a hospital in Colorado Springs in critical condition. But authorities say she is improving.

AP contributed to this update.

Original story below.

A longstanding disagreement over a property easement was likely at the center of a deadly shooting in remote Custer County, the county’s sheriff said Tuesday. 

Hanme K. Clark, 45, is suspected of killing three of his neighbors and critically wounding another in the shooting, which took place Monday afternoon.

He remains at large as a massive law enforcement search attempts to locate him. 

“We’ve been to this suspect’s house several times, but we had no indication it would lead to this,” said Rich Smith, Custer County’s sheriff, during a press conference. “We are willing to negotiate a peaceful surrender for him to come into custody.” 

Officials released the identities of the victims Tuesday afternoon. They include Rob Geers, Beth Wade, and James Daulton. The injured person, Patty Daulton, is expected to survive, according to the sheriff’s office. 

The shooting took place Monday afternoon along Rocky Ridge Road on a rural, wooded property near Westcliffe, Smith said. The road crosses over Clark’s property, which also served as the location of a non-profit organization he co-operated called Herbal Gardens Wellness. 

The road’s public usage had been the subject of a yearslong court battle, according to county records.

“The suspect has complained to us about the neighbors and the neighbors have complained about the suspect,” Smith said. 

It’s unclear what caused the escalation of the conflict on Monday, Smith said. But sheriff’s deputies had been in touch with family members and neighbors who weren’t involved in the shooting. 

“I requested assistance from U.S. Marshals, and we are following up on tips as we speak,” Smith said. 

Custer County deputies responded to a report of shots fired at the property at 12:59 p.m. on Monday. Smith ordered a shelter in place for residents while deputies launched a manhunt.

The search and shelter order extended north into Chaffee County when police observed Clark’s pickup truck entering a Walmart parking lot via surveillance cameras. Video showed a passenger entering the store and purchasing numerous items, the sheriff’s office said. Their identity is unknown.

Multiple police departments were involved in the search, which included thermal imaging and drones. The Denver Police Department lent a helicopter.

By Tuesday afternoon, authorities lifted all shelter-in-place orders for residents as they continued to look for Clark. Residents were notified through the county’s emergency alert system, according to the sheriff’s office. No further details about the suspect’s whereabouts were shared. 

Smith grew emotional as he thanked law enforcement for their help looking for Clark.

“I hate to see gun violence in our community,” he said during his press conference. “This is a peaceful place. I’m grieved that people aren’t going to be celebrating Thanksgiving this year.”