SANTA FE — A woman told a 911 dispatcher in Española that she and her family had been shot at while traveling in their car near the Ohkay Hotel Casino Thursday afternoon, but State Police never conducted an investigation.
Hours later, 18-year-old Cameron Martinez was shot to death on a highway in the same area.
Mark Timothy Hice, 22, Anton Martinez, 19, and Axel Zamarron, 17, are charged with one count of first-degree murder and other offenses in the death of Cameron Martinez, a 2018 graduate of Española Valley High School. Police say Hice has admitted that, from two different cars, he, Zamarron and Anton Martinez fired on a Subaru WRX that Cameron Martinez and three others were riding in around 9 p.m. Thursday near the Ohkay casino.
Cameron Martinez died at the scene while the three others were injured.
State Police believe the group targeted the Subaru by mistake. Brittany Garcia, 21, Hice’s girlfriend, who was driving one of shooters’ cars, is charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.
Now, Hice faces new charges, including shooting at or from a motor vehicle and four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, for allegedly shooting at a woman and her family near the casino about five hours before Cameron Martinez was killed.
According police affidavits filed in court Tuesday, a State Police officer went to the woman’s home Saturday morning because she wanted to report a shooting from two days earlier.
The woman said she, her husband and two grandchildren were traveling on N.M. 68 around 3:45 p.m. Thursday when a black Dodge Charger and a black Cadillac Escalade starting driving near the truck she was in. She saw a black handgun appear from a rear window in the Charger and “observed the weapon fire three shots in the direction of her and her family.” The woman said she saw people in the Escalade making hand gestures toward the Charger, but did not see anyone in the Escalade shoot back.
The woman said her group immediately pulled over and called 911, but she was never contacted by police.
“(The victim) was advised by Española Central Dispatch that the call would be transferred to State Police, but upon further research this call was put out only as a BOLO (be on the lookout) and so was only formally reported on the 6th of October,” the affidavit by State Police Agent Alexander Bennett says.
Lt. Elizabeth Armijo, a State Police spokeswoman, said officers were notified of the shooting but an investigation was not conducted.
“If the vehicles had been contacted, the contacting officer would be responsible for investigating the incident,” Armijo said in an email.
She wouldn’t speculate on whether officers could have prevented the later deadly shooting of Cameron Martinez if an investigation had been launched into the earlier incident.
“The information provided from the first incident was not sufficient to identify the specific vehicles involved,” Armijo said. “It was only later through the investigation of the second shooting incident homicide that agents learned of the first incident, and having already begun focusing on Mark Hice and Brittany Garcia, learned of the black Charger owned by Mr. Hice.”
While investigating the fatal shooting, officers got a tip about a Snapchat video of two juveniles “brandishing weapons and referencing a shooting,” an affidavit says. Officers later made contact with the juveniles, who said they were in the black Escalade. They also admitted that they had personal disputes with Hice and Garcia and confirmed Hice shot at their car two days earlier but, said they didn’t return fire.
Officers later got in touch with Hice’s mother, who confirmed he was hiding in Albuquerque and “expressed the desire to turn himself in for the shootings he was involved in,” an affidavit states. Hice and Garcia went to the Albuquerque State Police office, where they confessed to their roles in the shootings.
“Mark stated he had been in fear of being shot by people who were out to get him, and that as a result he knowingly combined with Anton and Axel to shoot anyone who he felt might be a threat to him,” an affidavit says. Hice said he had a handgun and that he gave handguns to both Martinez and Zamarron. He sold two of the guns and buried the other in Moriarty, he said.
Hice said he and Anton Martinez were in a Kia Optima that Garcia was driving and Zamarron was in a tan Nissan when “a blue vehicle had approached them from the rear at a high rate of speed.” Hice said he feared this car belonged to a male he considered an enemy and that he heard a gunshot as it came alongside his vehicle. He then opened fire on the car along with Anton and Zamarron. Hice said he shot nine times, Anton shot once and Zamarron emptied a full magazine on the blue car.