ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Staff Sgt. Christopher Valdez of the New Mexico National Guard on Thursday was awarded the Medal of Valor with Palm for saving the lives of two women last February.
The medal was presented by Gov. Susana Martinez. It was only the fifth time since she’s been in office that she has awarded the medal, and only the second time that medal included the Palm, which signifies that the recipient put his or her own life in danger.
“This medal is awarded to any member of the New Mexico National Guard or the State Defence Force who distinguishes themselves by an extraordinary act of personal bravery and heroism,” Martinez told those gathered in the state Regulation and Licensing Department’s boardroom in Albuquerque. “He put his life at risk above and beyond the call of duty.”
The incident occurred about 5 p.m. on Feb. 18, while Valdez was in his civilian job driving for Uber. Near Gibson and Yale SE in Albuquerque, Valdez saw a man intentionally crash his vehicle into a pickup truck. The man then got out of his vehicle and fired a handgun into the truck, which was occupied by two women, one of whom was hit in the shoulder.
The man then pulled the younger of the two women from the truck and began pistol whipping her in the street.
Springing into action, Valdez grabbed his personal handgun and yelled at the other man to stop. At one point, Valdez told police, he feared for his own life and fired his weapon, hitting and killing the man.
Valdez didn’t know it, but he had interrupted a domestic violence situation. The man who was killed, Qian Ming, 66, was the elder woman’s husband and the younger woman’s father.
“To say the least, this guy prevented possibly a double homicide; that’s what we could have on our hands tonight,” Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said at the time. “In my 19 years of experience, I would say that those two females would have been dead if he hadn’t stepped in and took action.”
Valdez is on temporary active duty with the New Mexico National Guard, working in the mobilization readiness group. In 2011, he was deployed to the Republic of Kosovo in southeastern Europe.
Martinez credited Valdez’s clear thinking and decisive action to training in the National Guard.