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A 21-year-old Albuquerque man has been charged with an open count of murder for shooting a homeless man who was panhandling at the intersection of West Central and 98th on Sunday morning
The homeless man, 56-year-old David Hart, was shot in the face and died at the scene, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.
Police say Isaiah Luna fled the scene after the shooting, but later returned with his mother and surrendered to authorities. A suspect, wearing a black hoodie and red basketball shorts, could be seen with his arms up as officers were taking him into custody.
Luna told an officer he shot Hart in self-defense after Hart punched him in the face, but authorities say that assertion isn’t consistent with witness statements or with surveillance footage obtained by detectives.
“I did not observe the homeless male at any time strike, punch or attempt to enter into the vehicle as stated by Isaiah to his family,” a detective wrote in the criminal complaint, after reviewing footage of the encounter.
The detective states that Luna appears to roll his window down and tells the victim something. The victim walks to the Jeep that Luna is driving.
“The homeless male appears to attempt to walk away a few times and is drawn back in by conversation from the driver of the Jeep,” the detective states. “The driver of the white Jeep then shoots the homeless male. I observed the homeless male fall to the ground and the white Jeep weaves through traffic fleeing south on 98th Street SW.”
According to the criminal complaint:
The shooting occurred shortly before 10 a.m. Several witnesses called 911 to report it and told dispatchers that the shooter was in a white Jeep. Officers arriving at the scene found the victim with a single gunshot wound to the head. Albuquerque Fire Rescue attempted to revive Hart but he died at the scene.
As police were investigating the homicide, a woman drove up and told officers her son, who was inside the vehicle, was responsible for the shooting. She told them the 9 mm handgun he had used was also in the vehicle.
At that point, Luna surrendered to police.
The woman said Luna had left her home earlier in the morning to get a marijuana cigarette. She said Luna tried to call her several times but her phone was on silent. When he got back home, he told his mother the homeless man asked him for money, and he told him to get a job. He told his mom and his girlfriend that the homeless man began punching him in the face and that’s when he shot him.
Luna’s mom told police that her son suffers from a host of mental health issues, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Intermittent Explosive Disorder and that he can become violent.
Luna’s girlfriend told police that she received a frantic phone call from Luna immediately after the shooting. Luna told her that he shot a homeless man who was trying to get into his vehicle and was punching him.
Luna was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on Sunday night.