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Border officials catch NM homicide suspect

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Border officials nabbed the suspect in a southern New Mexico homicide as he tried to cross the border from Mexico on Wednesday evening.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Roger Maier said an officer recognized Jesus Jose Lopez, 35, at the Columbus port of entry.

He said Lopez had no identifying documents and was taken into custody without incident.

Lopez is charged with an open count of murder in the April 9 death of 39-year-old Gustavo Tijerina in Columbus.

“The vigilance and attention to detail demonstrated by the CBP officer prevented this person from gaining entry,” CBP Columbus Port Director Tony Hall said in a statement.

According to a statement of probable cause filed in Magistrate Court:

Luna County Sheriff’s deputies responded around 1 p.m. to reports of gunfire in the 200 block of Main Street in Columbus. Deputies found Tijerina wounded near the back entrance of the Chamber of Commerce.

He had been shot multiple times, including in the head, and later died. Tijerina’s sister, a paramedic who responded to the shooting, told deputies her brother said “it was Jose who shot me.”

Soon after, deputies found the car used in the shooting and a gun abandoned outside a house in a nearby neighborhood. A friend of Tijerina’s told deputies the two men were parked outside the Chamber of Commerce when Lopez pulled up behind them.

The friend said Tijerina told Lopez to “get out of here” before Lopez opened fire and he heard “several bullets whiz past him.” The friend told deputies Lopez got out of the car and walked toward Tijerina, who yelled “you got me already, you got me already” in Spanish.

The friend said a woman came out of the building screaming and Lopez drove away.

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