Family demands answers after man killed in U.S. Marshals operation

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

The U.S. Marshals’ attempt to execute an arrest warrant at a West Central trailer park early Saturday morning led to a shooting and a family demanding answers from authorities.

A 23-year-old man who lived in one of the trailers was shot and killed, according to the man’s family. The shooting was followed by an hourslong SWAT standoff at a different trailer, which ended when a homicide suspect was taken into custody.

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Family members who gathered at the scene said FBI agents told them Edgar Alvarado, 23, was the man who was killed. They said that, after speaking with the FBI, they believe Alvarado was shot when deputy marshals and police tried to execute the warrant at the wrong trailer.

Officials from multiple law enforcement agencies wouldn’t confirm or deny that Saturday.

Sgt. Chad Pierce, a spokesman for New Mexico State Police, said the shooting happened around 6 a.m. at 7501 Central NW. Multiple witnesses said the shooting happened around 3 a.m.

“The United States Marshal Service was in the process of serving an arrest warrant when an incident occurred and shots were fired,” Pierce wrote in a news release.

The Marshals Service said that George Bond, 25, and six others were arrested at the trailer park. Bond was wanted in connection with a 2014 murder in Los Lunas. He had managed to flee from authorities at Albuquerque’s main post office, near Broadway and Mountain NE, on Friday afternoon.

Ben Segotta, a spokesman for the Marshals Service, said the arrests were made near where the shooting took place, but he declined to comment on the shooting.

Pierce didn’t say if the marshals opened fire or if it was officers from another law enforcement agency.

Hugo Sanchez, who was among the group of family members at the scene, said an FBI agent and Albuquerque Police Department chaplain met privately with family members around 12:15 p.m. and confirmed Alvarado’s death.

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Perla Alvarado, Edgar Alvarado’s cousin, met with FBI agents later in the day and said she was told the marshals were attempting to arrest someone who lives at a different trailer.

“They were looking for someone else and they killed him,” she said.

Spokesmen for the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, Albuquerque police and State Police refused to comment on that claim, or give any other information, on Saturday.

Edgar Alvarado lived in trailer 26, according to Perla Alvarado. Hours after the shooting, State Police and APD SWAT teams had surrounded nearby trailer 29.

Some officers had rifles pointed at the trailer, and others were asking people inside to come out.

“This is a police emergency. We cannot leave until we make contact with all occupants of trailer 29,” officers repeated over a loudspeaker.

Perla Alvarado said she believes her cousin was shot when officers got the trailers mixed up, but she isn’t sure why.

“This morning, we got a call about APD and U.S. Marshals being at my aunt’s house,” she said. “We have no idea why they shot him. He passed away instantly.”

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She said Edgar Alvarado lived in the trailer with his mother, stepfather and two younger siblings, and was working on his car when officers showed up.

Thomas Terrazas-Borjas, who lives next door, said he heard two gunshots in the middle of the night. He looked outside and saw about 12 officers.

He said police questioned him about what he saw when he left his home Saturday morning.

More than 50 marked and unmarked law enforcement vehicles and tactical vehicles from multiple agencies flooded the area and Central Avenue was closed in both directions from Unser to Airport for several hours during the standoff. Police cars filled the mobile home park and spilled out on a driveway leading to Central.

Albuquerque police, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies, State Police, Rio Rancho police, the FBI and U.S. Marshals were there.

At least two Rooks – small tank-like tactical vehicles – were used, and several armored vans drove SWAT officers around during the standoff.

Conrad Candelaria, U.S. Marshal for the District of New Mexico, was at the scene. He didn’t respond to a request to speak with reporters.

Deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service, a branch of the Department of Justice, often execute warrants alongside local law enforcement agencies. It wasn’t clear Saturday if Albuquerque police officers or other law enforcement officers were present when the shooting happened.

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Officials at the scene made no public statements, though FBI agents spoke with Edgar Alvarado’s family privately.

Edgar Alvarado’s family members, who were still at the scene late in the afternoon, yelled at police and demanded justice.

As the scene came to a close, SWAT officers were seen fist-bumping one another.

Alvarado was described as a small and outgoing man. He was a graduate of the Academy of Trades and Technology and was planning to propose to his girlfriend, his family said.

Perla Alvarado said the family is struggling to understand what happened.

“There has to be justice,” she said.

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