Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Police say two people were killed in separate areas of town early Tuesday morning, pushing the city closer to the highest number of homicides it’s had in one year.
In a span of two hours, Albuquerque Police Department detectives began investigating the death of a man who was found in a vehicle Downtown, and the death of a man who was shot and killed at a motel near Interstate 25.
Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman, said that, around 4 a.m., officers were called to the area near Gold and Seventh SW. The initial report was that there was a person who was “down and out” in a car.
“The officers attempted to render aid; however, the male did not respond to the aid and ultimately succumbed to his wounds on scene,” Gallegos wrote in an email.
He did not say how the man was injured.
Two hours later, at around 6 a.m., officers were called to the Motel 6 on Avenida Cesar Chavez SE, near I-25, for reports of a shooting.
Gallegos said an “unknown individual” reported a man was dead in a second-floor room.
“Officers arrived on scene and noticed a male who had suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest and was deceased,” Gallegos said.
He did not identify the people killed or say whether there were suspects in either case. Gallegos said the two deaths were not connected.
The deaths push the number of suspected homicides to 78, although Gallegos said the department expects eight of those will not be deemed homicides after further investigation. The record for homicides was set in 2019, when there were 82 by the end of the year. However, APD ended up reporting 80 homicides to the FBI for its annual national report.
As in years past, Gallegos said some deaths may turn out to be accidental, from natural causes or overdoses.
“We have several cases where a cause or manner of death have not yet been determined,” Gallegos said. “Preliminary investigation and autopsies suggest these deaths are not homicides or, in some cases, the death may be the result of self-defense. Detectives will make a final determination once they have final reports from the Office of the Medical (Investigator), results of toxicology tests, or through further investigation.”
Gallegos said at least one of the 78 investigations has already been determined not to be a homicide, but a detective needs to talk to family members before the department can release details.
At a news conference next to the Motel 6, Police Chief Harold Medina said that, while no one deserves to be murdered, “you’ve got to live a lifestyle that reduces your chances.”
“We’ve said this over and over, and yet we’re still here investigating another homicide,” Medina said. “Midnight to five in the morning, narcotics activity, hotels, stay away from that and you greatly reduce your chances.”
Medina said the looming record isn’t going to change or demoralize the department, and that officers are still working hard to clear as many cases as they can. He referenced the fact that auto thefts have dropped significantly since their peak in 2016 and 2017.
“It took us a couple of years to start getting these auto theft numbers moving in the direction we wanted,” Medina said. “It’s going to take us some time to get homicide numbers moving in that direction.”