Albuquerque police and firefighters met with concerned business owners and employees at a Nob Hill bar Tuesday afternoon following the fatal shooting of a University of New Mexico baseball player last weekend.
The meeting inside Imbibe Nob Hill allowed managers, bouncers and shop keepers to ask questions and vent their frustrations with crime in the area and what they called a lack of police presence.
Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the sit-down was part of APD’s new Shooting Response Protocol to send out officers within 72 hours of a homicide to speak with businesses and residents.
Police say 23-year-old Jackson Weller was fatally shot around 2 a.m. Saturday outside Imbibe, at Central and Richmond NE. No arrests have been made, and police have not released any details about the shooting.
The slaying shocked the community and stirred outrage from athletic organizations, local politicians and authorities who have vowed to find those responsible.
On Tuesday, police and firefighters offered counseling services to those who may have seen Weller’s slaying, promised to assign a couple officers to the area late Friday and Saturday nights and to keep the Girard and Central police substation open until 2 or 3 a.m.
But those working in the area day-to-day had more questions and told such stories as vicious brawls in the streets, men wielding knives inside shops and needle-strewn alleyways.
They wondered what they can do to protect themselves, why they have the crowds of Downtown Albuquerque but not the same level of police presence and claimed the day following Weller’s slaying was the slowest they’ve been in the past several years because people were “afraid to come here.”
Luis Enrique Valdovinos, who owns a Last Call in Nob Hill and Downtown, said the police presence between the two areas is “night and day.”
“Two officers — that’s better than nothing — but it’s two officers against a crowd of 2,000 people,” he said. “It’s just not enough.”
However, Valdovinos said he was optimistic that APD would follow through on keeping the area safer for local businesses and residents.
“It’s unfortunate that we would have to meet under these circumstances,” he said. “… But something’s going to get done because of it. I think that’s all better for the whole community.”
The officers told those present the meeting was the first of many and they hoped to gain more resources for a heavier police presence. They also encouraged local businesses to look out for one another, and officers handed out their contact information so they could keep in touch.