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Suspect charged in first homicide of the year

Nathaniel Natonabah (MDC)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Police Department detectives have charged a suspect in the first homicide of the year.

Nathaniel Natonabah, 34, is accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend, 45-year-old Yolanda Chee, and exchanging gunfire with her son at a Southeast Albuquerque apartment Friday night. He is charged with an open count of murder, tampering with evidence and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

He didn’t have a public defender as of Monday night.

An APD spokesman said Natonabah was shot in the chest and showed up later that night to the University of New Mexico Hospital. He will be booked into the county jail when he’s released from the hospital.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, around 9:45 p.m., police were called to an apartment on the 1800 block of Buena Vista, near Gibson SE, for a shooting. When they arrived, Alexander Becenti told them his mother’s boyfriend had shot her in the face and shot him in the hand.

Chee died at the scene.

Becenti told officers he was in his room with his girlfriend when he heard a gunshot. He said he opened the door and saw Natonabah pointing a gun at him and standing over his mother’s body.

“Alexander said that Nathaniel shot at him, so he retreated into his room and grabbed his handgun,” a detective wrote in the complaint. “Alexander explained that he was in fear for his life, as well as his mother’s, and at that point, Nathaniel was still pointing his handgun at Alexander, so he fired one shot towards Nathaniel.”

Becenti said Natonabah fired at him, striking him in the hand, and continued to shoot at the bedroom door after Becenti retreated. He said he heard what he believed to be Natonabah running down the stairs and then went out to find his mother had been shot in the face.

He said Chee and Natonabah had been drinking, and “had been involved in multiple domestic violence (incidents) over the years.”

A search of online court records shows Natonabah was charged in November 2019 for attacking a man he believed was involved with Chee. In August 2020, he was referred to a pre-adjudication program and ordered to take anger management classes.

He fulfilled the requirements of the program and the case against him was dismissed Jan. 6 – two days before Chee was killed.

While the homicide detective was interviewing Becenti, he got word that Natonabah had gone to Presbyterian Now Urgent Care clinic in the Northeast Heights and then was taken to UNMH by ambulance. The detective was told Natonabah would survive his wound, but could not be interviewed yet, according to the complaint.

It’s unclear how Natonabah got to Urgent Care as his vehicle was left at the crime scene.

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