ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police say a shooting in northwest Albuquerque left a man dead early Tuesday morning and put the city one homicide away from tying the highest murder rate in over 20 years, according to a police spokesman.
Officer Tanner Tixier said police responded to a shooting around 1 a.m. in the area of Fifth and Headingly NW. They found a 40-year-old man who had been shot laying in the middle of the street.
Tixier said rescue crews took the man to the hospital, where he died of his injuries.
The neighborhood has been quiet recently, but used to have some “significant” gang activity in the past, he said.
“We don’t know the motivation, whether this was gang-related, drug-related, domestic violence-related,” he said.
Tixier said detectives are interviewing witnesses, but police do not have anyone in custody. He did not identify the victim or know if he lived nearby.
It was the second slaying in eight hours; a man stabbed his older brother to death at a southeast Albuquerque apartment complex Monday night.
With this shooting being the 69th murder of 2017, he said the city is on the heels of the most homicides Albuquerque has seen “in recent history.”
The record is 70 murders in 1996.
“Not a great stat to be talking about,” he said. “You can’t blame it on one particular facet.”
Tixier said a lot of different reasons can be tied to the high murder rate, mentioning the drug epidemic in New Mexico “with little to no resources to treat (it)” and a recent law that has reduced the jail population “by a third.”
“You have more criminals on the streets, you’re going to have more crime, regardless of whether you think they’re violent or not,” he said. “As I’ve been saying for the past two years, our non-violent property crime offenders are more frequently arming themselves to carry out their means. People are getting hurt and people are dying as a result of that.”
Tixier also said he would be “remiss” if he didn’t mention the officer shortage.
“Clearly, we don’t have enough officers on the streets,” he said. “Is homicide something we can prevent by having more officers on the street? No, you can’t predict and prevent homicides.”
However, Tixier said some homicides have come as a “progression” of something that may have been prevented with more officers on the street.
“There’s lots of issues that need to be addressed,” he said. “It’s something that the citizens of Albuquerque need to have fixed.”
Tixier mentioned that Albuquerque often had a high solve rate of homicides in the past, at around 75 percent, but this year APD is “hovering” around 50 percent, with only 39 cases solved.
“Our homicide unit has a finite number of detectives and we have a large amount of homicides,” he said. “They’re doing their best, they’re working their butts off.”
Tixier said they are currently five full-time homicide detectives in the department, with two more in training.