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Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
In November 2017, Darian Bashir allegedly walked up to a young man in Downtown Albuquerque and shot him at point-blank range. The case was dismissed because the victim – who survived – didn’t testify.
In February, Bashir was accused of firing weapons from a vehicle with three others in Southeast Albuquerque, and District Attorney Raúl Torrez’s office had asked a judge to keep Bashir behind bars pending trial. That request was denied, and he was released.
Bashir, 23, is accused of opening fire again, this time outside a popular Nob Hill club last weekend where he allegedly shot a University of New Mexico baseball player in the chest. Jackson Weller, also 23, didn’t survive.
On Friday, Albuquerque police issued an arrest warrant for Bashir, who faces an open count of murder in Weller’s slaying outside Imbibe Nob Hill. Bashir is still on the loose.
Mayor Tim Keller told a news conference on Friday that Bashir shouldn’t have been free in the first place.
“This suspect was recently released from jail on his own recognizance for a felony firearms case in February, in which he was openly firing out of a vehicle,” Keller said. “… Unfortunately, this individual was back on the street.”
District Judge Richard Brown made the call to release Bashir, who had a “minimal criminal history” and “no felony convictions.”
“He was charged with a violent felony in 2017, but the charges were dismissed,” Brown said according to court records.
Court records say the judge also “was troubled by some inferences,” including the idea that Bashir, and the others he was with, had been shooting at police officers – something the officers did not include in the criminal complaint they filed with the court.
The judge found that although Bashir posed a safety risk to the community, that risk could “be reasonably addressed with appropriate conditions of release.”
The decision to release Bashir drew harsh criticism on radio airwaves and on social media on Friday after he was identified as the suspect in Weller’s slaying.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Metropolitan Court, officers responded to a shooting at Central and Richmond NE around 2:15 a.m. Saturday and found Weller lying in the street. He had been shot once in the chest and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police say video surveillance showed a man, later identified as Bashir, walk up to Weller, pull a gun from his waist and shoot him. Bashir is then seen getting into a vehicle that speeds away through a back alley.
Police say three witnesses identified Bashir as the man who shot Weller.
One witness told police he heard a gunshot and saw Bashir walking away holding a gun. Two other witnesses say they saw Bashir shoot Weller and walk away as Weller collapsed to the ground, police say.
Friends of Weller’s who were with him told detectives that he had been in a fistfight with several people before the shooting but that Bashir was not one of them.
It is unclear whether Bashir was driving the getaway vehicle, and police have not said whether they are seeking anyone else in connection with Weller’s slaying.
Police say detectives found “homemade” YouTube videos and photos online of Bashir and others, who appear to be “young teens,” flashing guns.
Bashir’s family declined to comment for this story.
In November 2017 Bashir was charged with aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm after allegedly shooting and injuring a young man who tried to talk to two women near Third and Central.
The case was dismissed in January 2018 after prosecutors failed to comply with hearing deadlines, including not arranging witness interviews.
Torrez said that although the prosecutor missed a few deadlines, the case fell apart when the victim didn’t show up to multiple pretrial interviews.
“In cases that have this type of violence, sometimes we don’t have cooperative witnesses,” he said. “So we have enough to initiate an arrest but not enough to complete a prosecution.”
The case has since been refiled, and Bashir was indicted April 9.
On Feb. 13 of this year, Bashir was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence after, police say, officers responding to gunfire in Southeast Albuquerque found Bashir, two other men and a teenager in a sedan with rifles and handguns.
They told police they had been in a gunfight with another vehicle over a “gang beef,” but officers never found the other vehicle.