ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two teenagers are behind bars after police say one of them fatally shot a man at a crowded Albuquerque park with a pistol the other had stolen weeks earlier during a party.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, 15-year-old Santiago Armijo and 16-year-old Jeremiah De La Pena were booked into the juvenile detention center in the death of 25-year-old Larry DeSantiago.
Armijo, the alleged shooter, is charged with murder and tampering with evidence, while De La Pena is charged with larceny of a firearm and tampering with evidence.
Armijo will be tried as an adult, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Police say the shooting occurred just before 5 p.m. at Tower Pond Park, near Tower and 82nd SW, while the park was full of people, from toddlers to adults, who soon became witnesses.
Officers found DeSantiago shot in the chest. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Police corralled dozens of witnesses to the slaying, with many telling officers that two teenagers were being chased by DeSantiago before one of them stopped at the top of a hill and shot him.
Witnesses told police DeSantiago fell, rolled down the hill and the shooter said, “That’s what you get.” Both boys then ran into a neighborhood.
Police say they found the two youths trying to hide their jackets behind an electrical box.
In the front pocket of De La Pena’s jacket: a .45-caliber pistol.
During questioning, De La Pena told detectives he had stolen the gun weeks before when he saw it lying around at a party.
Police say De La Pena had the pistol on him at Tower Pond Park when DeSantiago approached the teens asking for a lighter.
According to the complaint, the pair didn’t have a lighter but offered to sell DeSantiago a marijuana grinder, which he accepted, and they went to his car.
Once in the car, the boys told detectives DeSantiago acted “odd” and they believed he was either on crack or drunk.
According to the complaint, DeSantiago locked the doors and began to drive away.
Police say Armijo and De La Pena jumped out of the car and ran, with DeSantiago chasing them around the park multiple times in his car and on foot.
The boys told detectives DeSantiago chased them at a “slow jog.”
When police asked De La Pena, he told them the two could have “easily” outrun DeSantiago but continued to stop as he chased them.
“They were jogging most of the time to get away from him,” an officer wrote in the complaint.
When they reached the hill, Armijo told detectives he asked De La Pena for the gun to confront DeSantiago.
According to the complaint, De La Pena lost his baseball cap while giving Armijo the pistol and DeSantiago picked it up.
Armijo told detectives that when he asked DeSantiago for the hat, the man taunted the boys, so he shot DeSantiago in the chest.
Police say Armijo grabbed the hat and gave it back to De La Pena before the boys ran into a nearby neighborhood.
“When asked, Santiago did not have a reason why he and Jeremiah did not ask any of the adults at the park for assistance,” an officer wrote in the complaint.
By nightfall, a full moon hung over the large park, which was surrounded by police cars and strung up with crime tape.
A mobile crime scene lab could be seen in a parking lot across from the skate park on the northwest section of the park as police investigated.
A father stood alongside the yellow tape, waiting for news of his son.
He told the Journal he came to the park after hearing about the shooting. Officers told him his son was OK and would be released shortly along with the other witnesses.