Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies say two people are dead after deputies opened fire on a suspected stolen pickup truck that they had chased into Albuquerque’s West Side early Friday.
In a news conference a couple of hours later, Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said the incident started around 3:50 a.m. when the BCSO helicopter spotted a white pickup truck that had been reported stolen. Albuquerque police officers had encountered the truck earlier in the night, but a spokesman did not have any information about it.
North Valley-area command deputies responded to the report and tried to stop the truck.
“They actually got out ahead of this and deployed a spike belt that was successful in spiking the vehicle,” Gonzales said.
But, he said, the truck didn’t stop and instead continued to flee from authorities, driving erratically near Coors and Interstate 40.
Deputies performed a “pursuit intervention technique” – in which a cruiser hits a fleeing vehicle to get it to stop – in a nearby neighborhood, and the truck came to a standstill about a quarter mile away on Coors and Glenrio NW.
“Subsequently the deputies felt threatened,” Gonzales said. “We don’t know how many shots were fired.”
Two people were found dead in the truck, and two people exited safely and were taken into custody, he said.
He did not identify the people who were killed and did not know how old they were. He also did not identify the people who were taken into custody.
Gonzales did not know why the deputies had felt threatened or if any shots had been fired at them. Two deputies have been put on standard administrative leave.
A multi-jurisdictional team will investigate the shooting. Coors was closed in both directions between Fortuna and Hanover NW into the afternoon.
The white truck could be seen stopped on an embankment bordering southbound Coors north of Glenrio. Two uncovered bodies lay on either side of the truck into the morning, and all four doors were left open.
Samantha Collins, who lives in a house in the neighborhood across from where the truck stopped, said she and her husband were walking home early Friday morning when the chase blew past them.
“He went flying by in the truck, and then it was cop after cop after cop after cop,” she said. “None of them had their lights on, and the air support was out, but it was pitch black, too. Right away, I knew it was a high speed chase of some sort, about a stolen vehicle or something.”
Collins said she saw the truck had multiple flat tires and went through several red lights. Later, she said, she heard at least four gunshots.
A couple of blocks away, Alexandra Mirabal said the chase through her neighborhood streets and the ensuing crash woke her up.
“Around 4:30 or 5, I heard something, but I was half asleep,” she said. “I thought it was thunder at first and saw a flash so I thought it was thunder and lightning.”
Mirabal said when she went to her grandmother Kathe’s house around the corner later that morning, she saw the deputy’s cruiser with front end damage and realized it had been the one that tried to stop the truck.
The shooting comes on the heels of two other shootings involving deputies last week. Prior to Friday, deputies had shot and killed three people and shot and injured three others since July.
The previous shootings were:
On July 4, Deputy Charles Coggins shot and killed Miguel Gonzales, 28, who police say was armed and fled from a traffic stop in the South Valley.
On July 25, Deputy Charles Coggins shot and injured 26-year-old Charles Chavez, an unarmed auto burglary suspect who had claimed to have a gun.
On July 28, Deputy Pete Martinez shot and killed a man who reportedly broke into a home, kidnapped the homeowners and stole a car. Deputies say the suspect, Raymond Cruz, had rammed deputies with the car before he was shot.
On Aug. 8, Deputy John McCauley shot and injured Kendall Duran, 22, in the East Mountains. Police say he was pointing a gun at his father.
On Nov. 5, Sgt. Jason Foster shot and critically injured Rodney Tenorio, 36, on Edith just north of Montaño in a chaotic scene that involved Tenorio hitting his girlfriend, then getting in and out of his car.
On Nov. 10, several deputies shot at a man who was killed during a shootout at a North Valley mobile home park.