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Man killed during fight at halfway house

Tyrone Herrera, 48 (MDC)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A probationer living at a federal halfway house in northeast Albuquerque is back behind bars after police say he stabbed another resident in the chest, with what may have been a pen, killing him Monday evening.

Tyrone Herrera, 48, is charged with murder.

It is unclear how long Herrera had been at the Diersen Charities halfway house, on Menaul near Carlisle NE, before the stabbing, but court records show it wasn’t his first stay there. The director of Diersen Charities did not immediately respond to phone calls Tuesday.

He pleaded guilty to federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2011 and was sentenced to almost four years in prison with three years of supervised release to follow, according to federal court documents. Since then court records show he had violated his conditions of release a handful of times, including in 2015 when he was kicked out of the Diersen Charities house because authorities say he failed a drug test.

Around 6:30 p.m. Monday, Albuquerque Police Department officers were called to the nondescript halfway house in the midst of a commercial district on Menaul for reports that a resident, later identified as Jose Gonzales, 33, had been stabbed.

Gonzales, divorced and unemployed, had been homeless and living on a friend’s couch in Los Angeles three years ago when he was asked to carry almost five pounds of methamphetamine to Arkansas, according to federal court documents. He was arrested at the Greyhound station in July 2015 and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He pleaded guilty in April 2016 and eventually ended up in the halfway house.

When officers arrived at the Diersen Charities house they found Gonzales lying in the doorway of the reception area with a penny-sized stab wound below his collarbone, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court. He died at the scene.

Employees at the house identified Herrera as the person who stabbed Gonzales and pointed officers to his dorm room. He was taken into custody.

Other residents who saw the fight told detectives Herrera was in the library when Gonzales came up to him and asked him for a quarter. Then, they said, Herrera got up and started chasing Gonzales around the table.

“(The witness) said they ran around the table when Tyrone punched Jose in the chest, but (the witness) observed something shiny in Tyrone’s hand,” the detective wrote in the complaint. “(The witness) said he observed blood on the victim’s shirt after he was punched in the chest.”

Surveillance video of the library shows Herrera “removed an object from the pencil box and concealed it in his waistband just before Jose walked in the room,” according to the complaint.

After Gonzales was stabbed he ran out of the room and into the reception area saying “calm down, back up” to Herrera who was following behind him.

Then, police say, he sat down on a chair and fell to the ground. A short time later he was dead.