ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man called 911 last year, telling the dispatcher his friend had been shot in the head during a “drug deal gone wrong.”
But Albuquerque police say the killing of Clifford Patterson came at the hands of five high school students who planned to rob the 20-year-old weeks in advance.
Taking his life, however, wasn’t part of the plan.
Now, Dominic Padilla, 16, Ryan Saavedra Jr., 17, Omar Cordero, 18, and Giovonta Martinez, 16, have been charged with murder, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy in the April 20, 2018, death of Patterson.
All of the teens except Padilla are being charged as serious youthful offenders, which means they could face an adult sentence in District Court if convicted.
Gabriel Martinez, 16, and Cordero were initially named as suspects and charged in the months following the homicide. Since then, Martinez has taken a plea deal in the case on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a person under 19. He was remanded to the Youth Diagnostic and Development Center for two years.
Padilla, Saavedra, Giovonta Martinez and Gabriel Martinez are all in custody. A warrant has been issued for Cordero’s arrest.
According to a criminal complaint filed last week in Metropolitan Court, officers responded to the shooting in the 9700 block of Gemstone SW, near 98th and Central, around 4 p.m. A man had called 911 to report his friend, Patterson, had been shot. He died at the scene.
The friend told police the two men had agreed to sell a quarter-pound of marijuana to Gabriel Martinez through Facebook messenger and arranged to meet in the cul-de-sac.
According to the complaint, Padilla and Gabriel Martinez got into the backseat before Padilla – who was 14 at the time – pulled out a Derringer pistol and shot Patterson in the back of the head.
Police say Patterson’s friend jumped out of the car and opened fire on the two teens in the backseat, hitting Gabriel Martinez once in the leg before they fled.
After a yearlong investigation, detectives were able to identify each teen involved in the planned robbery and how it all began.
According to the complaint, Giovonta Martinez brought a gun to Atrisco Heritage, where the teens attended high school, two weeks before the killing. He gave the gun to Padilla, who brought up the idea of robbing a drug dealer.
“The five came up with the following conclusion: Dominic (Padilla) had the gun so he was going to rob the dealer,” a detective wrote.
Police say Giovonta Martinez, Saavedra and Cordero waited nearby to help out “once the dealer arrived” but they did not plan on Patterson having them get into the car.
According to the complaint, once Gabriel Martinez and Padilla got into the backseat “things went wrong.” As Patterson pulled out a bag with the marijuana in it, Padilla drew the Derringer from his sweatshirt and shot him.
Police say Patterson’s friend jumped out of the car and began shooting at the teens, who couldn’t get out of the backseat because child locks were on. Padilla broke the back window and crawled out as Gabriel Martinez ducked until the shooting stopped.
According to the complaint, Patterson’s friend shot Gabriel Martinez in the leg as the teenager ran. It is unclear what happened to the gun used in the killing since it was given to an “unknown person” afterward.