SANTA FE — A Santa Fe teen who formerly was charged for the September murder of a Michigan man — and who remains a “person of interest” in the homicide — was arrested again and accused of firing a handgun as police were trying to arrest him in an apparently unrelated case earlier this month.
Zachary Gutierrez, 17, had been charged with murder and tampering with evidence in the Sept. 26 shooting death of 64-year-old Richard Milan, who was passing through Santa Fe on a cross-country trip.
But those counts were dropped late last year by Santa Fe District Attorney Marco Serna, who said his office couldn’t take the case to a grand jury in time to meet deadlines established for juvenile defendants. Gutierrez was released from the Santa Fe youth detention center in December.
On Feb. 12, a 17-year-old with the same name and address as the Gutierrez who had been charged with killing Milan was arrested.
According to a search warrant affidavit filed in District Court, Gutierrez reportedly beat another man at a house party and stole his handgun, later fired that gun several times during a drug deal and fired a gun in the air before fleeing from officers, all on Feb. 9.
James Hallinan, former spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office and for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s successful campaign for office last year and who now is on contract to serve as media contact for the district attorney’s office, released a statement from District Attorney Serna that did not specify whether a new murder charge would be filed against Gutierrez.
“My office is working to keep the juvenile defendant in custody and to protect the safety of residents, however, given the active and ongoing nature of the Richard Milan murder investigation and the alleged involvement of a juvenile defendant, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time,” the statement said.
Santa Fe police spokesman Greg Gurule said Zachary Gutierrez is still a person of interest in Milan’s murder, but he wouldn’t confirm whether the teen arrested on Feb. 12 is the same person, despite the age and address match.
In the new case, SFPD officers got a report of shots fired at a house on Salazar Place and a blue pickup leaving the area around 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9, according to the affidavit. Officers found a blue Toyota Tacoma and a white Dodge Charger in the Alto Park parking lot, on Santa Fe’s old West Side, and tried to make contact with the two occupants of the Charger.
Sgt. Bryan Rodriguez said he saw a male passenger, later identified as (Gutierrez), “reach downwards as if grabbing an item, followed by a loud audible ‘thud,'” the affidavit states.
Fearing the sound was a gunshot, Rodriguez drew his gun and told the two males to exit the car. Gutierrez got out, but he used his left hand to push off against Rodriguez and was able to get into the nearby Tacoma, which sped away from the scene.
The truck, which was allegedly being driven by Gutierrez’s girlfriend, 18-year-old Arianna Gurule, nearly hit Sgt. Rodriguez, the affidavit says.
The man who’d been in the Charger with Gutierrez, 18-year-old Nathaniel Bueno-Diaz, got away in the car. He was arrested near Rufina Street and South Meadows Road and is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, tampering with evidence and leaving the scene of an accident.
Bueno-Diaz told police that he and Gutierrez met near the Aspen Community Magnet School to attempt to buy drugs at a nearby house. He said he saw Gutierrez fire several rounds from a black handgun while they were at the house. Bueno-Diaz also said Gutierrez had beaten another man at a house party earlier and took the gun from the man’s waistband.
Gutierrez began to panic when police approached them at Alto Park, Bueno-Diaz said, and pulled out the gun. “Mr. Bueno-Diaz said (Gutierrez) lowered his profile and pointed the handgun at Mr. Bueno-Diaz’s lower extremities and told him to flee,” the affidavit says.
Gutierrez and his girlfriend Gurule were arrested Feb.12 after police began surveillance on Gutierrez’s known address on Calle del Prado. Gutierrez later admitted firing a handgun in the air as he fled from officers on Feb. 9, the affidavit says
According to court documents in the September murder, Richard Milan, of Kalamazoo, Mich., was walking his dog along Airport Road when he encountered a group of young people. A 17-year-old girl who was part of the group later told police that Milan and Gutierrez exchanged words before Gutierrez became aggressive and got in Milan’s face.
The girl said she heard a gunshot, turned around and saw Gutierrez shoot Milan two times, and that Gutierrez stood over Milan and laughed at him. Milan later died of blood loss at the hospital.