Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies shot and critically injured a 28-year-old man after a chase that ended in a quiet South Valley neighborhood Tuesday morning, according to Sheriff Manuel Gonzales.
The shooting occurred months after a rash of deputy shootings last year sparked public scrutiny and several lawsuits.
On Tuesday, Gonzales held a news conference at the scene, near Valley Gardens Park, but details about the case remain sparse. He said he didn’t know yet whether the suspect was armed, how many officers fired, or whether they felt in danger.
He said the chase started shortly after 10 a.m. when deputies were called to reports of a “disruptive individual driving a white Ford pickup” at the Central New Mexico Community College campus in the South Valley, 5816 Isleta SW.
They soon learned the truck had been reported stolen.
“On our deputies’ arrival they came into contact with that vehicle,” Gonzales said. “They were attempting to approach that vehicle when that vehicle did ram one of our deputy’s vehicles and a pursuit ensued.”
Brad Moore, a CNM spokesman, said although the chase started on campus, the college was not involved in any way. He said security hasn’t reported that any students were around during the incident.
Deputies were authorized to chase the suspect, and the suspect led them a couple miles west to Valley Park SW, south of Gun Club. That’s where Gonzales said at least one deputy shot the suspect. No deputies were injured.
“It’s unknown how many shots or how many deputies fired shots,” he said.
The man was taken to the hospital and is in critical condition. Gonzales did not identify him, although an office spokeswoman provided his age.
Gonzales didn’t say what prompted the deputies to open fire or whether the man was armed. He said he did not know whether the man was inside or outside the truck when he was shot.
“We are in the preliminary stages of the investigation,” he said. “There are investigators here at the scene. We’ll have more of that information later, and we’ll give a press conference later in the week.”
The suspect’s truck remained at the scene into the afternoon. It appeared to have run off the side of the road and was surrounded by BCSO vehicles.
Investigators with the Albuquerque Police Department, New Mexico State Police and the Rio Rancho Police Department were at the scene assisting with the investigation.
Neighbors in the area say they heard between three and six shots after seeing deputies in pursuit race down the street.
Rosie Moya, who lives on the neighboring block, said around 10:30 she was watching TV when she heard deputies pass her house.
“I saw five or six that passed,” Moya said. “I heard the shots afterwards.”
Moya’s neighbor, Becky Jaramillo, said she heard what sounded like a loud crash as well as gunshots before she ran inside her home.
She spent a couple hours after that fielding phone calls from neighbors and friends about what had happened and assuring them she and her husband were safe.
“I’ve lived here for 45 years and never seen this so close,” Jaramillo said.
This is the first time BCSO deputies have shot someone this year.
Last year the department was involved in nine shootings in 4½ months – from July 4 to mid November – raising concerns from family members, community groups and civil rights organizations. Five shootings were fatal. In the other shootings, three people were wounded and two people were shot at but uninjured.
At least four lawsuits have been filed in connection with those shootings.