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The two men who were shot by Albuquerque police in separate incidents within four days of each other last month were each gripping a gun when they died, according to the department.
But for one of them, the fatal shot came from his own hand.
In a virtual presentation Wednesday morning, acting Lt. Hollie Anderson of the Violent Crimes Division gave a rundown of the fatal shooting of Matthew Montoya in the driveway of a neighborhood near the Sandia foothills on Oct. 12 and the shooting of Jason Edward Galliart at a motel on Central on Oct. 16.
Anderson said that two members of the SWAT team – Officer Aaron Engh and Officer Paul Durham – shot at 41-year-old Galliart, and he was struck in the chest. However, she said, Galliart had shot himself in the head and the Office of the Medical Investigator ruled his death a suicide.
In the Montoya shooting, five sworn personnel, including a sergeant, an officer and three detectives, fired shots.
Breaking with their normal practice, APD did not release the names of the officers who shot 52-year-old Montoya. Anderson said that’s because they’re members of the Investigative Services Division and identifying them could put their safety and investigations at risk. The department only played audio of the incident taken from lapel camera video.
“Throughout this administration we’ve consistently released video made of all the shootings,” Interim Chief Harold Medina said at the briefing. “I think it’s been just a couple of times that due to the undercover nature or the plainclothes nature positions that we haven’t … When it doesn’t interfere with our ability to do future or current investigation we are going to release that type of information.”
The first incident began around 8:45 a.m. Oct. 12 when police say Montoya shot his ex as she was leaving Mass at the Queen of Peace Chapel on San Pedro NE near Constitution.
Eva Montoya, who had an 8-year-old daughter with Matthew, had previously said she was afraid he was going to kill her and filed a restraining order against him last year. But in August, court documents show, the two agreed to dismiss the restraining order and worked out a custody agreement.
Witnesses said they saw them arguing in a parking lot and then saw Montoya shoot 50-year-old Eva. She died a short time later.
Montoya then went to try to pick up their daughter at school in Tijeras but the staff was aware of his issues with Eva and wouldn’t let him. Anderson said Montoya called family and friends and said he missed Eva and wanted to be with her.
She said around 1 p.m., detectives tracked him down – using emergency GPS services – to an acquaintance’s house in the 3700 block of Chelwood NE, near Palo Duro. Nine sworn personnel arrived at the scene and blocked his van in the driveway.
Anderson said the detectives approached, wearing vests that identified them as police, and shouting commands for Montoya to come out with his hands up. Then, a sergeant reported seeing Montoya point a gun at the officers.
“At 13:12 hours a sergeant discharged his rifle into the passenger side sliding door in the area where Matthew was laying …,” Anderson said. “Detectives reported Matthew still had the gun in his hand and was still pointing it at detectives. Detectives number 3, 6, and 7 and officer No. 1 each discharged their rifles at least one time in the passenger compartment of the van where Matthew was lying in an attempt to stop Matthew’s actions.”
Montoya was struck in the head and he died at the scene. Anderson showed a photo of his hand gripping a gun, his finger on the trigger.
Although Anderson did not identify them by name, she said those who fired include: a sergeant who has been with APD since 1999 and has been involved in two prior shootings; an officer who was a lateral hire in 2018 who had been involved in one prior shooting with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office; a detective who has been with APD since 2007 and has been involved in one prior shooting; a detective who has been with APD since 2008 and has been involved in one prior shooting; and a detective who has been with APD since 2005 and has not been involved in any other shootings.
Montoya’s older daughter declined to comment and asked for privacy.
The second shooting happened four days later, on Oct. 16, at the Imperial Inn on Central near Interstate 25.
Around 7:17 a.m., a motel employee called to say someone had shot through the window of one of the rooms a couple of hours earlier.
Officers arrived and, after hearing shots from Galliart’s room, eventually decided to call out the SWAT team.
Anderson said the crisis negotiation team also arrived and officers called Galliart’s phone, the motel phone and a cellphone a robot delivered to his room again and again in order to try to get him to surrender peacefully. At one point his girlfriend arrived at the scene and told investigators that Galliart had told her that officers were not going to take him alive and he was going to commit suicide, Anderson said.
On Wednesday, Rachel Bahe told the Journal she and Galliart – who had recently been released from prison and was living with his mother in Los Lunas – had been dating since mid-August. She said he never used hard drugs around her but she knew he did when he had appointments to give people tattoos.
Bahe said when she went to visit him at the motel he was paranoid, didn’t appear to recognize her and yelled at her to go away.
In 2017, while in prison Galliart appeared on a MSNBC television special where he talked about his separatist views and showed off his swastika and other white supremacist tattoos. But Bahe said he also was funny and loving and sweet to her.
“Everyday he would hug me and he said, ‘If the cops come I want you to run, run as fast as you can and don’t turn around. If the cops are going to shoot me I’ll shoot myself because I don’t want to go back to prison,’ ” Bahe said.
That’s what ultimately happened, police say.
Anderson said around 4 p.m., Galliart climbed out the motel room window and SWAT officers Engh and Durham saw a gun in his hand and opened fire. Engh’s shot hit him in the chest, making a superficial wound, but Anderson said OMI determined it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head that killed him.
Engh has been with APD since 2006 and was involved in one prior shooting. Durham has been with APD since 2011 and has been involved in one prior shooting.
When asked why the officers didn’t order Galliart to drop the gun before they fired, Anderson said they had been trying to communicate with him for hours to no avail and had lots of information that he wanted to get into a shoot out with officers.
“He has already told us what he’s going to do and he’s demonstrated the ability to do that with continuing to fire shots at the officers and exiting,” Anderson said. “So it was one of those very quick decisions that the tactical officers had to make.”