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Neighborhood deserted after attacks on homeless men

Robert Madrid, 20, who lives near 6005 Central NW, said he was shocked about the killing of two homeless men in the area. He said most days, people walk up and down the streets in the neighborhood, but the streets were empty Monday.(Dean Hanson/Journal)
Robert Madrid, 20, who lives near 6005 Central NW, said he was shocked about the killing of two homeless men in the area. He said most days, people walk up and down the streets in the neighborhood, but the streets were empty Monday.(Dean Hanson/Journal)
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Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Most days, you can find plenty of people walking the streets near 60th and Central, said Robert Madrid, 20, who lives nearby.

But two days after a pair of homeless men were found bludgeoned to death at 6005 Central NW, the surrounding neighborhood felt deflated, Madrid said Monday.

“No one is going outside anymore,” he said. “Normally people are walking around. Now it’s just nobody.”

The empty lot where they were killed was a known hangout for homeless men, who mostly kept to themselves, said Eugene Martinez, who owns Familia Auto and Tire Repair, which is located on the same block as the lot. Also on that block are a liquor store and electronic cigarette shop, an apartment complex and several houses.

On Monday, a single mattress lay on a corner of the lot, surrounded by shards of glass from broken beer and liquor bottles. There’s no grass or trees, just sand and goatheads.

Walking through the lot Monday afternoon were 14-year-old Alvearo Veleta and his 13-year-old brother, Jovannoy, who were going to the store to buy flowers for their mother’s birthday.

Alvearo Veleta said he was surprised when he heard two men were killed next to the apartment complex where his family lives.

“I got scared,” he said. The boys said they didn’t know the teenagers accused of the crimes.

A man who identified himself as Jimmy G. said he was gone over the weekend and was shocked to learn the news. He said he also lives in the apartments next to the lot.

He said he hoped a Native American homeless man with whom he sometimes made small talk wasn’t one of the victims.

The area was the scene of an Albuquerque Police Department shooting in August 2011, in which a SWAT officer killed armed robbery suspect Michael Marquez. Police said during the standoff, Marquez reached into a duffel bag and cycled a round in what turned out to be an AK-47.

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