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APD identifies suspects in deadly officer-involved shooting

An APD vehicle is pictured at the scene of an officer-involved shooting Saturday. Richard Rivera was shot and killed by an Albuquerque police officer in a Smith’s grocery store parking lot. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

A monthlong, meth-fueled romance ended in a police shooting Saturday at the Smith’s grocery store near Yale and Coal SE, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Richard Rivera, 47, was shot and killed by an Albuquerque police officer, and Jennifer Rael, 39, was arrested, police said.

Rivera was running in the Smith’s grocery store parking lot when he was shot, witnesses told the Journal.

Before the shooting, police said, Rivera and Rael were involved in an armed robbery at a Verizon store near Menaul and San Pedro NE.

Police didn’t say if Rivera was armed or if he had threatened a police officer or someone else prior to the shooting. They also didn’t identify the officer who shot Rivera.

Gilbert Gallegos, a police spokesman, said the department plans to hold a news conference and release video of the shooting at a later date.


Chris Banks leads protesters who gathered Monday at the site of a fatal shooting involving Albuquerque police on Saturday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

A crowd of about two dozen protesters gathered at the site of the shooting Monday evening.

Olivia Martinez, one of the protesters, lives across the street from the grocery store.

She said she heard a loud screech and what she thought was fireworks Saturday afternoon, then learned from a neighbor that she had heard a shooting.

“It’s really scary to think of something happening like that in such a heavily populated area,” she said. “Anybody in this parking lot could have been shot. It’s a direct threat to my safety and my neighbors’ safety.”

Rael, of Albuquerque, made her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa in federal court Monday morning.

She has been charged with aiding and abetting armed bank robbery and using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Rael will remain in custody at least until a preliminary hearing and detention hearing scheduled for this morning, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Rael was arrested outside the grocery store after the shooting.

According to the criminal complaint, Rael was with Rivera when he robbed a gas station June 10 and a bank June 11. She was driving a U-Haul that she had rented when he committed the robberies, according to court documents.

Rivera had a warrant for his arrest at the time of the shooting for a different armed robbery, according to the criminal complaint.

In an interview with special agents after her arrest, Rael said Rivera moved in with her in mid-May, and she started using methamphetamine twice daily.

The couple had met after Rael smuggled meth into the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility near Las Cruces for her ex-husband and another man, according to the complaint.

She told agents that she has used drugs off and on since she turned 16.

Rael had purchased a pistol and kept it in her closet, but she said Rivera had access to it and would regularly carry it, according to the complaint.

Police and rescue personnel outside a southeast Albuquerque Smith’s after witnesses say they saw officers shoot a man Saturday afternoon. (Roberto Rosales/Albuquerque Journal).

The shooting marks the second time this year that Albuquerque police officers have shot and killed someone.

The department is in the midst of a years-long reform effort that aims to address a pattern of excessive force, including shootings.