Law enforcement officials weren’t saying much about the case on Monday, including whether the man who was shot was a suspected burglar or someone else.
Lynn Stanford, a neighborhood resident, identified the shooting victim as a 77-year-old retired Santa Fe Police officer who lived his entire life around Johnson Lane and, in fact, was shot in the home where he was born.
Stanford described the retired officer as “a nice older man” who is trusted by his neighbors, many of whom do not live on the street all year long.
“They trust him with the keys to their houses and he’s in charge of looking after the houses while they’re gone,” she said. She said the retired officer typically carries a gun.
The State Police, which took over investigating the case because a Santa Fe officer did the shooting, issued a news release saying the officer responding to the residential alarm “spotted a person in the dwelling with what appeared to be a firearm” and “shots were fired at this time.”
The shooting took place on the 500 block of Johnson Lane, which is a short, narrow residential street off Garcia Street.
According to statements from the State Police and the Santa Fe Police Department, the officer responded to the alarm about 3:20 a.m. A male was treated for injuries at the scene and was transported to Christus St. Vincent’s Hospital. He’s expected to survive.
The Santa Fe officer has been placed on administrative leave, standard in cases of officer-involved shootings, and Santa Fe police are conducting an administrative investigation.
A State Police spokesman said the man taken to the hospital was not a police officer called to the scene but wouldn’t otherwise characterize who the wounded person was.
“Investigators are conducting interviews and going through the house,” State Police spokesman Tony Lynn said Monday afternoon.
The owner of the Johnson Lane home, who lives out of state, said he received a call from police Monday morning.
“They said it wasn’t apparent anything was taken,” said Robert Eagan, a former vice president for Sandia National Laboratory who now works as a consultant in Blaine, Wash.
Eagan said he doesn’t spend much time in Santa Fe anymore, though he was at the home as recently as last week. He said no other tenants reside at the home.
Asked if he knew the identity of the man who was injured, Eagan referred the question to police.
Neighbors at the scene Monday morning described Johnson Lane as a quiet, dead-end street not known for crime. But several of them said they were awoken by multiple gun shots about 3:30 a.m.
“I heard about five shots that woke me up. I don’t know; I was sleeping pretty hard,” said one man who lives a few houses away.
The man said the shots came in rapid succession, but he couldn’t tell by the sound whether they might have been fired from the same gun.
Joe Nero, who also lives nearby, said he was awoken by five to seven shots.
“I thought somebody was rapping on my gate, but when I went outside I found out it was something else,” he said.
Nero said he couldn’t be sure if the shots came from the same gun or if there was an exchange of gunfire.
“It sounded like two different guns, but as fast as they were fired, it could have been one,” he said.
Nero said police arrived at the scene three or four minutes later and started searching the neighborhood.
“They did a thorough search, I can tell you that,” he said. “There must have been 10 or 15 cops in the area. They came in my house and checked my basement. They had ladders and were up on rooftops. It was an incredibly thorough search.”
Second State Police probe
This is the second incident involving a Santa Fe Police officer that the State Police have investigated this year. The agency also investigated a January death following a fight at Tiny’s Lounge where a responding Santa Fe officer handcuffed the deceased and then realized he wasn’t breathing.
The State Police released virtually no information on the Tiny’s case until weeks after it took place, when the agency finally provided, as required by statute, written police reports sought by news agencies under the state Inspection of Public Records Act.
Regarding Monday’s officer-involved shooting, Lynn said the investigator wanted to be thorough before more information is provided.
“I went and talked to the guy investigating,” Lynn said. “He wanted to make sure he had all the interviews and things done right before he released anything.”
Lynn said he expected the name of the officer to be released on either Wednesday or Thursday but he did not know why there needed to be a delay.
Santa Fe police Capt. Aric Wheeler said Monday Santa Fe Police could not comment beyond a brief news release because SFPD was not heading the investigation. Wheeler said the shooting was a confidential personnel issue for his department.
State Police Chief Robert Shilling did not return a phone call Monday seeking more information on the officer-involved shooting or why more detail couldn’t be released to the public. The Journal submitted a formal public records request to the agency Monday afternoon.