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Fight in ABQ park ends in death

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One man is dead and another is in custody after police say the two got into a fight north of Downtown in Coronado Park on Monday.

Around 1:15 p.m., officers were called to the park on Third NW just south of Interstate 40, said Simon Drobik, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department.

He said the park is known for having a high number of homeless people.

“It appears two homeless people were involved in a fistfight,” Drobik said. “One homeless person is deceased here at the park, and the other gentleman is in custody.”

Drobik late Monday identified the suspect as Bernest Benjamin. He said Benjamin admitted striking the victim with a stick and was booked on an open count of murder.

The body of the victim, whose name was not released, could be seen lying in the northernmost part of the park near the frontage road.

Drobik said many people were in the park when the man was killed. Shortly after the homicide investigation started, detectives walked from picnic table to picnic table interviewing small groups of people about what they saw.

Other people gathered across the street, watching the investigators and talking among themselves about who might have been killed and what happened. Drobik said police have tentatively identified the victim, but they haven’t identified his family.

Drobik said detectives took Benjamin to APD headquarters Downtown and interviewed him Monday afternoon.

“Whenever we do an interview, we want to make sure they have their scruples, and they’re in their right mind,” he said. “This is a drinking park.”

The killing marks the 27th homicide investigation of the year, Drobik said, and detectives have investigated three fatal shootings that they determined were in self-defense. The department has 10 homicide detectives, up from five last year.

By the end of 2017, Albuquerque had recorded the highest number of homicides in recent history, 75, with six determined to be justified.