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APD releases details of fatal shooting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Arthur Lujan, wanted for murder in the death of his girlfriend’s ex-husband, had been holed up in his northwest Albuquerque home for nine hours last month before police say he emerged from the dismantled wreckage of the garage, wearing a gas mask and shooting in the direction of SWAT team officers.

Two officers – Justin Jones from the Albuquerque Police Department and Michael Mariscal from the New Mexico State Police – returned fire, killing him.

Jones has been with APD since 2007, and it was his first shooting. Mariscal has been with the state police since 2009, and a spokeswoman did not say if he had been in other shootings.

“Unfortunately, this is once again a domestic situation that escalated,” Deputy Chief Harold Medina said in a news conference Friday. “It escalated beyond just a violent crime, but also escalated to an officer involved shooting.”


Arthur Lujan (Courtesy of Brittany Sandoval)

But Brittany Sandoval, Lujan’s girlfriend and the ex-wife of the man Lujan killed that morning, said Lujan had been ready to surrender before the SWAT team arrived. She said he had shot her ex, Anthony Sandoval, then returned to the couple’s two-story, stucco home in the 6700 block of Black Volcano NW, near Unser and Western Trail, to tell her what he had done.

“He said ‘I don’t know what came over me. I just grabbed the gun and I unloaded,’ ” Brittany Sandoval said. “That was not his persona. Arthur served his country for five years, he had a lot of PTSD going on that he had to deal with from being deployed.”

Brittany Sandoval said she called his parents in Socorro and they drove up to see him one last time before he surrendered to police.

He didn’t surrender.

Details of case

At the news conference, Albuquerque Police Department Lt. Jason Sanchez laid out the circumstances leading to Lujan’s death.

Lt. Sanchez said that Lujan and 33-year-old Anthony Sandoval had fought in the past and that Anthony Sandoval suspected his ex-wife’s boyfriend of pouring water in his gas tank last winter. He said the situation came to a head the morning of July 17, when Anthony Sandoval suspected that Lujan had broken the windows and taillights of two of his vehicles at the Tierra Pointe apartment complex on Los Volcanes near Coors NW. Officers were called but could not find evidence that it had been Lujan.

A couple of hours later, Lujan showed up at the scene.

In a call to 911, Anthony Sandoval can be heard telling a dispatcher the man who vandalized his cars had returned. When asked if Lujan had any weapons, Anthony Sandoval replied “I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t doubt that he does.”

Less than a minute later Anthony Sandoval said he had been shot and fell silent as the dispatcher tried to get him to respond.

Detectives quickly contacted Brittany Sandoval and went to the couple’s home.

Brittany Sandoval, the couple’s 11-month-old daughter and Lujan’s parents were escorted outside where they were left to listen to the SWAT team calling to Lujan inside the home.

Lt. Sanchez detailed the steps the SWAT team took trying to get Lujan to surrender. He said they called him on his cellphone, then, after he threw that phone outside, gave him another phone. And another one after that one died.

Sanchez said that, although officers called the numbers repeatedly, Lujan never picked up. The SWAT team used chemical sprays and dismantled the front of the home, taking down the garage door, front door and windows so they could look inside, where they spotted several boxes of ammunition, a high powered rifle and pistols.

“They observed Mr. Lujan inside the residence positioning himself to look outside without exposing his body,” Sanchez said.

The New Mexico State Police SWAT team was called in and the standoff continued.

Sanchez said that, around 1:30 a.m., after another round of smoke was deployed into the home, that Lujan emerged, wearing a gas mask and shot at officers. The bullet struck the garage door of a neighboring house, and officers Jones and Mariscal each fired one round, killing Lujan.

Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman, said that over 100 lapel camera videos were made of the incident but detectives didn’t find any that showed the shooting.

Lujan is the third person to be shot and killed by Albuquerque police this year. In the month since his death, officers shot and injured a suspect last Sunday. They have not identified that man and said Friday that he is still in the hospital.

Brittany Sandoval said she believes that Lujan knew that killing Anthony Sandoval was wrong but couldn’t face going to jail.

“He couldn’t see his daughter through a glass window (at jail),” Brittany Sandoval said. “He couldn’t tell (my other daughter) what he did, and I feel like he thought about that the 11 hours he was sitting in that house.”