An Albuquerque man who said he was the fiance of a woman shot by police Monday morning was arrested late Monday after police said he pointed a gun at people near Wyoming and Central.
Tasia Martinez, an Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman, said two weapons recovered by police during the investigation were pellet guns, which fire rubber pellets. She said the weapons looked real and people called police when he waved them.
The suspect, Mario Romero, 26, told police that he threatened people and officers with a handgun so he would be killed by police, according to a criminal complaint.
Romero was reportedly upset over the death of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes, who was shot and killed by APD early Monday morning. Police said Hawkes had just stolen a car and pointed a handgun at a police officer from close range.
About 9:30 p.m. Monday, police were called to same area after Romero threatened people. APD said in a news release that the man was suicidal and homicidal.
When Romero arrived, about 30 people were holding a vigil for Hawkes near the place on the sidewalk where she was killed, said Sayrah Namaste, who helped organize the vigil.
Romero, who was shirtless, held what looked like a rifle in one hand and a handgun in the other.
Namaste said that Romero waved guns to show he was upset, but that he didn’t directly threaten anyone at the vigil. People there talked him into putting the gun back in his vehicle. She said he stayed at the vigil and cried for a few minutes before leaving.
“It was a really intense scene,” she said.
An officer had a conversation with Romero in a nearby parking lot and Romero told the officer his plans. The officer was able to calm Romero briefly, before the man got back into his SUV with two teenage girls and fled from responding police officers at high speeds, according to the complaint.
Romero told the officer it was a toy gun, according to the complaint.
He fled from police in a vehicle and pointed a gun at officers during the pursuit. A hostage negotiator talked to Romero by cellphone, and a police helicopter tracked the vehicle. The vehicle stopped after it was disabled near Rio Bravo and Del Rio and the man ran and a police dog apprehended him, according to the news release.
Police said the SUV was stolen and airsoft guns were found at the scene.
Romero was charged with child abuse, kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence, receiving and transferring a stolen vehicle, aggravated fleeing of law enforcement and aggravated assault on a peace officer.
Martinez said police haven’t verified what type of relationship Romero and Hawkes had, and that it is not part of the criminal investigation.
Romero had a history of arrests dating back to 2005, but none for violent crimes, according to a state court website.
The charges include auto theft, burglary and drug and drunken driving offenses.
Romero has two pending criminal cases against him. In February, he was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession with intent to distribute. The case is in District Court in Albuquerque, according to a state court website.
On April 12, a criminal complaint that charges Romero with two counts of receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle was filed in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, according to the website.