Suspect In Viral Washington Co. Shootout Lived In U.S. Under DACA, Official Says

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A Springdale man accused of shooting at a sheriff's deputy was living in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama-era initiative that protected immigrants from deportation, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Luis Cobos-Cenobio, 29, was arrested Nov. 11 following a shootout and pursuit with several police agencies. No officers were injured during the incident, but Cobos was treated for a gunshot wound to his shoulder.

He faces four counts of attempted capital murder, committing a terroristic act, fleeing, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cobos, originally from Mexico, had his DACA status revoked Tuesday (Nov. 20) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said ICE spokesman Bryan Cox.

Luis Enrique Cobos-Cenobio

Although Cobos was arrested in 2015 for drug possession, he didn't meet the threshold for deportation under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's enforcement priorities in place at that time, Cox said.

Those provisions, Cox said, required that a person protected by DACA could be deported if they were convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors.

Washington County Circuit Court records show Cobos pleaded guilty in January 2016 to marijuana possession. The judge reduced his charge to a misdemeanor and sentenced him to 12 months probation.

Cox said Cobos had another misdemeanor arrest in 2018 that ICE has no record of. Court records didn't show any other arrests for Cobos.

President Barack Obama introduced DACA in June 2012 by executive action, giving hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country illegally as children two-year, renewable permits to live and work, according to the Associated Press.

To qualify, they needed to have arrived before their 16th birthday, been under 31 in June 2012, completed high school or served in the military, and have clean criminal records, the AP reported.

Nearly 683,000 people were enrolled at the end of January.

President Donald Trump sought to end DACA in 2017, calling the program illegal and saying Obama exceeded his authority.

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously kept a preliminary injunction in place against Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to the AP.

Lawsuits by California and others challenging the administration’s decision continue in federal court while the injunction stands.

According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, Cpl. Brett Thompson tried to stop Cobos on Nov. 11 near South Barrington and Steel roads in Tontitown for a traffic violation, but Cobos kept driving.

Cobos continued on Steele Road and eventually stopped.  When Thompson got out of his vehicle, Cobos also stepped out of his car and began shooting, prompting Thompson to return fire, police said.

Portions of the shootout -- which lasted 53 seconds -- were captured by a bystander and dashcam from the deputy's vehicle.

"It was by the grace of God that (Thompson) wasn't hit. But from that point on, his reaction saved his life," said Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder.

"(Thompson) reverted to his training and did exactly what he was supposed to do."

After the shooting, Cobos led the sheriff's office on a pursuit that entangled Springdale officers and Arkansas State Police. He told police he "wanted to die" after surrendering in Springdale, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Thompson and two Springdale police officers who shot at Cobos are on administrative leave, as is protocol, pending an investigation by state police.

Cobos was being held Wednesday (Nov. 21) at the Washington County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond and a hold for federal court.

He has a hearing set for Dec. 10 in Washington County Circuit Court.