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Los Lunas man arrested in death of his girlfriend

BELEN – A man wanted for murder was recently taken into custody after a three-hour standoff with multiple law enforcement agencies that forced lockdowns of nearby schools and was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center.

Gilbert Duran

Gilbert Duran

The Valencia County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip that Gilbert Duran, 42, of Los Lunas, was at an apartment complex in the 100 block of North Third Street in Belen earlier this month.

Duran was wanted on a warrant for an open count of murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend, 37-year-old Rebecca Baldonado of El Cerro Mission. He has been charged with murder and tampering with evidence.

VCSO was called to El Cerro Mission at about 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 4 where Baldonado was found dead.

According to the affidavit for an arrest warrant, deputies arrived at a home on Lavanda Lane, where they found a woman performing CPR on Baldonado, while the victim’s young son was crying.

Baldonado had an apparent gunshot wound to her chest.

The woman reported that Duran, Baldonado’s boyfriend, drove into her yard and she saw him pulling Baldonado out of the passenger side of a pickup truck. The woman told deputies Duran yelled out to her to call 911 as he laid her on the ground outside and then drove away.

The witness at the scene told detectives in an interview that Duran and Baldonado had gotten into a verbal argument earlier that day at the house on Lavanda Lane.

“Rebecca became upset and stormed out of the home, gathered her purse and other items from Gilbert’s truck and began walking down the driveway toward Airport Road …,” the affidavit states. “Shortly thereafter, Gilbert entered his vehicle and went after Rebecca. (The woman) stated within five minutes, the two returned and she could hear screaming outside her front door.”

When the witness opened the door, she saw Duran remove Baldonado from the truck and drive away.

VCSO spokesman Sgt. Joseph Rowland said surveillance of the location on Third Street was established about noon Feb. 7 and Duran’s presence at the complex was confirmed.

A perimeter was set up, Rowland said, comprised of officers from the sheriff’s office, Belen and Los Lunas police, New Mexico State Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Belen Consolidated Schools school resource officer and a unit from the BNSF police. The regional SWAT unit was also activated and on-scene.

Officers established communication with Duran, who was in one of the apartments, and “he came out peacefully with two other individuals,” Rowland said.

When Duran left the apartment, he was unarmed, Rowland said, but the VCSO criminal investigation division obtained a warrant to search his home.