Posted 4/21/15 (Tue)
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
A Watford City woman owes her life to the quick actions of bystanders, local law enforcement, and emergency responders who came to her aid during a moment of life or death.
On the morning of Tuesday, April 14, at approximately 10:30 a.m., the Watford City Police Department responded to a call of a male and female fighting, with the male trying to put the female in his trunk in the 200 block of 8th Street NW.
The first officer to arrive found the 57-year-old victim bleeding from multiple stab wounds and immediately called for an ambulance. Other officers were given the suspect’s description and his vehicle description of a black Mercury Milan. The man was immediately recognized as a suspect from prior domestic stalking complaints the police department had taken over the past couple of weeks.
“I was on the phone with 911 when he fled,” said one witness to the attack. “I was able to give the vehicle description, the license plate number, and the direction in which he fled. I’m very impressed with how fast officers got there. They immediately called an ambulance and the ambulance got there shortly after that.”
Officers from the Watford City Police Department and McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office immediately began searching for the suspect. A ‘Be On the Look-Out’ for the suspect was also put out on State Radio for all law enforcement. About 20 minutes after the initial call, a Watford City officer who was actively searching for the suspect located him in his vehicle behind First International Bank & Trust. The suspect, identified as 63-year-old Peter Ortiz of Alexander, was subsequently taken into custody without further incident, and the vehicle was impounded as evidence.
“We had an address for the suspect in Alexander,” said Watford City Chief of Police Art Walgren. “So we had deputies heading out toward that address and officers searching other areas of town. One of our officers spotted the suspect’s vehicle in the parking lot of First International Bank & Trust. He was sitting in his car smoking a cigarette.”
Ortiz was observed to have what appeared to be blood on his pants when he was arrested. And he was booked into the McKenzie County Jail on charges of Attempted Murder, Attempted Kidnapping, and Stalking. Bond was set at $500,000.
The victim was Ortiz’s wife and they had been separated for some time before this incident. According to the court affidavit, Ortiz had stabbed his estranged wife in the chest, and that particular stab wound was approximately ¾ of an inch wide. She was also severely cut on her left arm, resulting in a severed tendon. She was taken by ground ambulance from McKenzie County Hospital to a Bismarck hospital where she underwent surgery for her injuries.
Ortiz is scheduled for a Preliminary Hearing on May 20, at 1:30 p.m. and is being prosecuted by the Office of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.