Commencement 2024 Information

Commencement 2024 Information

HU Security Officer Commended for Saving Lives

Gina and Christopher Romero

Gina Romero, left, pins a medal of valor to her son Christopher Romero’s uniform Aug. 9.

Las Vegas, NM — New Mexico Highlands University security officer Christopher Romero received several honors for his bravery in saving two Las Vegas residents from a burning building May 18.

Donato Sena, the university’s police chief, conferred upon Romero a letter of commendation, medal of valor, and life saving medal.

Around 4:30 a.m. on May 18, Romero noticed smoke in the sky near the university’s teacher education building. He proceeded to the area, finding a house on fire at 12th Street and San Francisco Avenue.

Romero began searching the house and found a man inside the first-floor apartment. He pulled the man to safety. Romero then braved the burning, smoke-filled residence to wake the man’s sister and pulled her from the blaze.

“Romero’s quick action resulted in saving two lives, and he also attempted to go upstairs but was unable because the stairwell was on fire,” Donato said.  “His quick action also resulted in getting the Las Vegas Fire Department to the scene, who quickly extinguished the fire.”

The Las Vegas Police Department also arrived on the scene. After the fire was extinguished, a body was found in the stairwell, making it a crime scene with evidence of possible murder.

Sena said Romero’s work in securing the scene helped preserve evidence for investigators. 

Sena also commended security officer Clarence Romero for assisting Christopher Romero in helping secure the fire and crime scene. In addition, Sena commended dispatcher Ann Marie Armijo for responding to help secure the scene.

Sena said Clarence Romero and Armijo did not hesitate to respond, even though neither was on call at the time.

Sena also gave letters of commendation to several of Campus Police staff for their performance during a July 17 electrical transformer malfunction at Highlands. The transformer heated nearly to the point of explosion, causing power and communication outages on campus, including the campus police and security operations.

“By keeping calm and working as a team, it helped the university during a very stressful period until everything was returned to full operation,” Sena said. “They were able to secure a perimeter around the unsafe area, allowing PNM and Highlands University personnel to deal with the incident,” Sena said.

Those Sena commended as coming together as a professional first responder team during the transformer incident include: police officers Timothy Leyva and Clarence Romero, security officers Bryan Trujillo and Christopher Romero, student security officer Joseph Fru, dispatcher Francessa Padilla-Gutierrez, and administrative assistant Naomi Valdez.