SANTA FE — Robert Romero loved to get on his bike and disappear in the mountains for hours, friends and colleagues say, and was known for doing things on a mountain bike that no one else could.
But the 52-year-old’s life was cut short when, police say, he was shot dead by someone outside his home on Las Casitas in central Santa Fe around 3 a.m. Monday during some kind of altercation.
The Santa Fe Police Department continues to investigate, but issued no new details Wednesday.
Tony Farrar, owner of Bike N Sport on Cordova Road, says he has known “Robbie” for years through mountain biking. The store has sponsored Romero, who worked as comptroller and chief financial officer for Barker Realty in Santa Fe, in competitive races.
“He loved to disappear into the woods,” Farrar said. “That’s his passion and love, and it has been for a lot of years. When you hear the stories of where he’s been, it’s pretty impressive.”
Farrar said his son and Romero’s daughter, both 17-year-old students at St. Michael’s High School, are dating. Romero was married with two children.
“My son’s been trying to comfort them as best he can,” Farrar said. “The loss has been rough on everybody. It’s just really hard to deal with the loss of somebody who did not deserve what he got.”
Farrar said the company’s riding team wants to possibly put on a race in Romero’s honor and give the proceeds to Romero’s family, but they’re still bouncing ideas around.
“We all want to do something for Robbie, but we’re trying to help the family out, one way or another,” he said.
Kyle Klain, the IT manager at Barker Realty, also spent a lot of time cycling with Romero and described him as an “absolute legend” on a bike, but says Romero was also a key executive at the prominent local real estate company.
“He was one of those silent leaders,” Klain said. “He didn’t say much, but when he did everyone listened. He was such a gifted problem solver. If you took it to him, you could almost guarantee that you were going to come out with a solution. That’s the thing that I think all of us are going to be missing, other than the fact that he was a funny, smart guy.”
The killing came as a shock to neighbor Frank Tucci. He said he’s now going to install security cameras on the outside of his house.
“We haven’t had any problems in here at all,” Tucci said. “It’s been pretty damn quiet. I think that’s a sad situation. I don’t know what anyone would have against (Romero).”
There was still a somber mood at the Barker office Wednesday afternoon, but Klain said everyone is now trying to remember the good things about their friend and colleague.
“I think I’ve reached a point where I’m just grateful,” Klain said. “I think that’s the thing I keep hearing echoed in this office. Everyone is profoundly sad and shocked at what happened, but at the end of the day, I think everyone is just very thankful to have known him.”