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Suspect charged in killing, robbery at jewelry store

Albuquerque police investigate the scene at National Jewelry Buyers on Coors Boulevard on July 19. According to a criminal complaint, detectives got a break late last week that led to the arrest of 24-year-old Manuel Gardner.
Albuquerque police investigate the scene at National Jewelry Buyers on Coors Boulevard on July 19. According to a criminal complaint, detectives got a break late last week that led to the arrest of 24-year-old Manuel Gardner.
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An Albuquerque man was in jail late Monday on a $1 million bond after police arrested him in the shooting death of a West Side jewelry store employee, according to court and jail records.

Police received information from a confidential informant that concluded the investigation and resulted in the arrest over the weekend of Manuel Gardner.

Gardner, 24, is charged with an open count of murder in the July 19 death of Richard Glass, court and jail records say.

Police say Gardner stormed into the National Jewelry Buyers at 9784 Coors NW and, within about 15 seconds, shot Glass and made off with $1,700 in cash.

GARDNER: Suspect in killing and robbery at West Side jewelry store

GARDNER: Suspect in killing and robbery at West Side jewelry store

Gardner also faces charges of evidence tampering, robbery and aggravated burglary, according to jail records.

Glass was a “God-fearing” father of two “who lit up any room he entered,” according to a posting that appeared on the business’ website after Glass died.

Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman Tasia Martinez would not make department officials available Monday for an interview about Gardner’s arrest.

In an email response to Journal questions, Martinez said Gardner spoke to police about the case and did not confess to the killing. She said in the email that it does not appear Gardner had any connection to Glass or the jewelry store.

A criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court by APD provides some details about the case, including that an APD detective had Gardner stopped on Wednesday – three days before he was arrested – but let him go after questioning Gardner about the vehicle.

The detective had identified Gardner as a potential suspect in Glass’ death at the time of the Wednesday traffic stop, according to the complaint.

Witnesses told police on the day Glass was shot that they saw a white Ford Crown Victoria near the West Side gold and silver exchange around the time of the shooting, according to the complaint.

Police obtained video from the business and two other nearby businesses, the complaint states.

The videos – which were combined, edited and released to the media last month – show a man in a black, hooded sweatshirt with a red bandana go into the jewelry store, shoot Glass, reach into a drawer and remove something, then drive away in a white sedan.

On July 24, someone tipped an APD gang unit detective that a white Crown Victoria like the one described on the news in connection with Glass’ death was seen regularly at a location on the 1900 block of Ladera SW, the complaint states.

The detective showed the tipster a photograph of the armed robber from the jewelry store, and the tipster said the robber’s “bird legs” matched those of the man who drives the white Crown Victoria, according to the complaint.

The detective “was able to see in plain view a pay stub through the window of the vehicle with the name of Manuel Gardner in it,” the complaint says. The detective “also could see in plain view a reddish/pink bandana on the rear driver’s side of the floor board.”

That same APD gang unit detective was patrolling near Unser and Ladera NW last Wednesday and saw a man he recognized as Gardner walking in the area, according to the complaint. The detective watched Gardner get into a white Crown Victoria with no license plate or temporary tag and drive northbound on Ladera.

The detective had another officer stop the vehicle, the complaint says. Later, the detective arrived at the scene of the traffic stop, and Gardner told him he owned the vehicle but hadn’t registered it.

“Manuel’s information was documented and he left from the scene,” the complaint states.

APD spokeswoman Martinez did not answer an emailed question about whether the detective questioned Gardner about the homicide during the traffic stop on Wednesday.

Two days later, on Friday, the complaint says a “concerned citizen” contacted APD with information about Glass’ death. The tipster said that Gardner told him he had committed the killing and that he had stolen $1,700 from the business.

According to the tipster, “Manuel stated he ran into the business and shot the guy because he would have recognized him and grabbed the money and ran out,” according to the complaint.

The tipster said Gardner drives a white Crown Victoria, the complaint states, and provided “specific information not released to the public concerning the homicide of Richard Glass.”

Neither court nor jail records show where Gardner was arrested. Jail records indicate that he was arrested at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Romie Salem, the owner of National Jewelry Buyers, wrote in his statement posted on the business’ website that Glass “was not only an employee of ours, but a member of our family – and I know he felt the same way about us. You will not find a more sincere, God-fearing man, whose playful personality lit up any room he was in.

“We’re praying that the perpetrators of this disgusting crime will be brought to justice and that we never see the like of it again.”

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