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Family: Woman fatally shot by BCSO was mentally ill

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

In the past couple of months, family members say they had called law enforcement a handful of times to try to get help for their cousin and sister Elisha Lucero, who seemed to be suffering from psychosis and possibly schizophrenia.

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Elisha Lucero, 28 (Courtesy Elaine Maestas)

Sunday night was the last time.

Elisha Lucero was shot by Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies who say she “aggressively approached” them outside her home, possibly while armed with some type of weapon. She died at the scene.

BCSO has not publicly identified the woman who was killed, but her older sister Elaine Maestas and cousin Leroy Lucero spoke with the Journal about the 28-year-old, 4-foot-11-inch Elisha Lucero and the events leading up to her death.

Leroy Lucero said shortly before midnight, he called deputies to the family home on the 4100 block of Sheldon SE, southwest of Rio Bravo and Broadway, because his cousin had hit their uncle.

When deputies arrived, Leroy Lucero said, Elisha Lucero refused to leave her RV, which was parked on the property just outside the fence. She said she was not wearing any clothes and didn’t want to come outside.

BCSO Undersheriff Rudy Mora said the woman had locked herself inside the RV and armed herself with a weapon. He would not say what the weapon was.

“The female exited the RV at one point and aggressively approached, closing distance on the deputies,” Mora said in an early morning preliminary news conference at the scene. “The deputies fired their weapon, striking the female. The female is deceased at this time.”

He said one deputy was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. It’s unclear how the deputy was injured, and a spokeswoman would not answer additional questions about the incident.

“I do not have any additional information available for release at this time,” Deputy Felicia Maggard, a BCSO spokeswoman, wrote in an email. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Mora said the Multi Agency Task Force – made up of the Albuquerque Police Department, New Mexico State Police, BCSO and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office – is investigating the shooting. It is the first time this year deputies have shot someone.

Deputies are not required to wear lapel cameras but are usually equipped with audio recorders.

“We send our condolences to the family of the female and our thoughts and prayers go out to the deputies involved in this incident as it is a very tragic event for them,” Mora said. “No offenders are outstanding at this time.”

Maestas said about a year ago her sister had a tumor removed from her skull. She said after that she started becoming increasingly paranoid, and Maestas was trying to get herself appointed as her guardian.

“Anybody who knew my sister before she was diagnosed with schizophrenia – my sister was somebody who would talk to you about God,” Maestas said. “She was always wanting to share the love of God with people.”

Maestas said that in April, Elisha Lucero started getting worse and was frequently hallucinating and withdrawn. She didn’t want to move in with Maestas in Tijeras or with their brother in Nevada and chose to stay with her uncle and cousins in their South Valley neighborhood.

“I think she went into a psychosis,” Maestas said. “I’ve been trying to study up on it to see what I can do to help her. She was just really hallucinating, seeing things that weren’t there, talking to people who weren’t there.”

Maestas said they had called law enforcement a couple of times for help but couldn’t force her to take medication or to stay in the hospital.

Elisha Lucero had a scant criminal history apart from a couple of misdemeanors and traffic citations in recent years, according to online court records.

Less than two weeks ago, on July 10, she was arrested in Valencia County, south of Rio Communities, when a deputy spotted her wandering by the side of the road about a mile and a half from a crashed car.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Los Lunas Magistrate Court, Elisha Lucero told deputies she had left her home in Albuquerque and was on her way to her grandfather’s ranch when she lost control of her red 2001 Chevrolet Camaro and crashed. Deputies found she had a prescription pill bottle with marijuana and a metal pipe. She admitted to drinking three “Grape-a-Ritas” – a flavored margarita in a can – after the crash.

Elisha Lucero was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and careless driving, all misdemeanors.

Leroy Lucero said when he called BCSO on Sunday night, his uncle told deputies she was not armed and that she just needed help. He said he was standing in front of the house next to four deputies as the situation unfolded.

“I see the door open and the cops say ‘run, run, run’ or something like that …,” Leroy Lucero said. “I trip, I fall, she runs … I was on the ground. She was running, she stepped on me, I guess. I said ‘Elisha, no, no, no’ I look up to see where she was running, that’s when I saw them shooting.”

By Monday afternoon, investigators had left the scene.

Elisha Lucero’s RV remained parked on the corner behind an ice cream truck her uncle had given her but hadn’t been used in a couple of years. Family members gathered to grieve and wash the blood off a nearby truck.

“I didn’t call the cops for them to shoot and kill her,” Leroy Lucero said. “I called the cops to help her … I regret it because she’s gone now. I didn’t know that they were going to do that.”


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