ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Before Maximilano Villegas opened fire on officers Wednesday night, police say, shooting and injuring one of them, his girlfriend called 911 to say he had pushed her around and was threatening to kill himself.
A spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department said the officer was taken to the hospital and is expected to be OK. He did not name the officer but said he is a veteran of the department.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, Villegas’ girlfriend said the whole thing started when she told him she wanted to break up. She said Villegas, 38, grabbed her arm, dragged her into the bedroom, threw her on the bed and held her down.
So she called police.
By the time police arrived at the woman’s house on the 3900 block of General Bradley, near Montgomery and Wyoming NE, she and her two older children were outside. But she told police her 9-year-old was still inside with Villegas.
“Officers went to the door of the home and spoke with the boyfriend who told the officers he was sending out the child,” an officer wrote in the complaint. “When asked why he was going to do that he said it is to preserve life.”
Villegas, armed with a rifle, let the child out through the garage door and stayed inside the house, according to the complaint.
Officers began to surround the house and called the SWAT team for assistance. That’s when police heard gunshots and realized one of the bullets had struck a uniformed officer
“Unfortunately one of the shots hit an officer posted at a perimeter post in the shoulder,” said officer Fred Duran, an APD spokesman.
Dozens of police vehicles surrounded the area during the standoff, blocking off the neighborhood, as a helicopter circled above with it’s lights off. Multiple SWAT officers could be seen entering the area on two Rook tactical vehicles and a BearCat while ambulances waited in a nearby parking lot.
SWAT officers launched several gas canisters into the house before Villegas came out and was taken into custody around 3 a.m. Duran said officers didn’t fire any shots during the incident and Villegas was not injured.
By Thursday afternoon the quiet cul-de-sac showed few signs of the standoff that had taken place the night before. The garage door to the woman’s house had been ripped out of the frame and a man who said he was her uncle was there to repair it.
Villegas, a security officer for the University of New Mexico Hospital, is charged with aggravated battery on a police officer, false imprisonment, child abuse, and misdemeanor domestic violence charges.
Cindy Foster, a UNMH spokeswoman, said he had undergone a background check when he was hired in October 2014. According to online court records, he has only been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Although an officer wrote in the complaint that Villegas, who has “Superman tattoos” on both arms, had past incidents with APD, it is unclear what those incidents were.
Foster said he is now on unpaid administrative leave.
“Our hearts go out to the officer injured in the line of duty, and we are all praying for a complete and speedy recovery,” Foster said.