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Police investigate five homicides in six days

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

An employee at a West Side Albuquerque motel was cleaning rooms Wednesday morning and stumbled upon the victim of what police say is the city’s fifth homicide in six days.

Officers arrived at the Econo Lodge at Iliff and Coors NW around 11:30 a.m. and quickly determined the man had been killed, said Simon Drobik, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department.

He didn’t identify the man or say how he died but said they are investigating it as a homicide.

“Because of the condition of the room and the way the body was discovered, that was deemed to be a full homicide callout,” Drobik said.

This makes five slayings in six days in Albuquerque, and the 15th reported this year. In addition, police determined three other homicides to have been justifiable.

The city had 13 homicides – with two of them ruled justifiable – by this time last year, when Albuquerque tallied the highest homicide numbers in recent history.

“We don’t know what’s going on. I’m not sure why people are committing violence against each other. It’s very unsettling,” he said. “We’re asking the public to calm down.”

Alongside a plea for peace in the streets, Drobik said detectives are asking anyone with information about the homicide cases to come forward.

“There’s always somebody that saw something, or social media, or someone is talking about it,” he said. “Those little pieces of information crack these cases wide open.”

Drobik wouldn’t say if there are any suspects in the five cases but said police are following all leads.

“As of right now, there seems to be no connection with these homicides,” Drobik said, “which probably makes it more troubling, as a city, because they are five stand-alone homicides that happened in six days.”

The flurry began Friday night when officers responded to a shooting at the Villa Hermosa apartment complex near Coors and Quail NW and found the body of 42-year-old Adrian Johnson in the parking lot.

By Sunday morning, detectives were investigating a second homicide after officers found a man’s body with “massive trauma” lying in landscaping rocks on Menaul NE just west of Interstate 25. That man is believed to have been homeless and has not been identified.

Later that night, police were called to a fight in a neighborhood near Central and Wyoming NE, and found Alexander Begay, 27, dead at the scene.

Then, on Monday night, officers were called to the Smith’s grocery store near Constitution and Carlisle NE, where they found a man shot to death in a neighboring alley. Police have not publicly identified him.

During that incident, which began in the Smith’s parking lot, Drobik said a bullet lodged in the car of an 18-year-old girl, missing her head by a “couple inches” and leaving detectives expressing concern that this recent rash of homicides could have caused a bystander to be injured or killed.

He said the department is “strapped” with detectives working “around the clock” between crime scenes and attending court hearings for an ongoing homicide case.

Drobik said there are currently five incoming homicide detectives shadowing the original five during the investigations.

“We’re working really, really hard to solve these crimes, trying to keep the public safe,” he said.

Drobik said police cannot “saturate” an area for homicides as they do to find stolen cars.

“Unfortunately, we can’t run any kind of (tactical) plans or intervention on homicides,” he said. “They’re kind of spontaneous.”