Then, on Sunday, as he was going about his work day police say the 62-year-old gas station attendant from Estancia was shot and killed by an armed robber who fled the scene.
The suspect had still not been found Monday night.
New Mexico State Police officers investigating the case say around 4 p.m Sunday an armed robber, wearing a bandanna over his face and carrying a semi-automatic handgun, entered the station on NM 344, south of the interstate, and demanded money. It’s unclear how much he got.
“During the robbery the Smith’s Fuel Center attendant was shot,” Officer Carl Christiansen, an NMSP spokesman, wrote in a news release. “He was transported from the scene and later died at the hospital.”
Chrisiansen said the suspect is a Hispanic or white male between 25 and 30 years old and between 5 feet 10 inches tall and 6 feet tall with a thin build. He was driving a white pickup truck, possibly a Ford, that had been captured on security camera footage.
In the stills from the footage, it appears the truck has writing on the passenger side door. Christiansen said they are working on enhancing the photograph in order to be able to read it.
“We’re hoping it’s a local instead of just someone off I 40,” Christiansen said.
He said they don’t know which way the suspect fled.
The shooting has reverberated around rural Edgewood, which has had only a handful of violent crimes in recent years.
A corporate affairs manager with Smith’s Food & Drug released a statement Monday saying they are shocked by the shooting and are mourning Pelkey’s loss.
“Smith’s management is meeting with our Edgewood store associates and offering professional counseling through this difficult time,”
Aubriana Martindale wrote in an email. “We are working with police during this investigation to provide whatever support required to apprehend the perpetrator of this criminal act.
Alan Carabajal, who lives a couple of miles from the gas station, said he worked at the Smith’s Fuel Center when Pelkey was hired and they would still talk in passing about three times a week at the station.
“He was the face of Edgewood,” Carabajal said. “Everybody knows him. He really was a good man.”