Editorial: As in mosque fires, public can help get justice in hit and run - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: As in mosque fires, public can help get justice in hit and run

Before his 7-year-old son, Pronoy Bhattacharya, was killed by a hit-and-run ATV outside the River of Lights last month, Aditya Bhattacharya said the family had been thinking about moving away from the Duke City.

Pronoy Bhattacharya, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver at Tingley and Centeral on Sunday, December 12, 2021. (Courtesy of Tina Patel)

Nearly a month later and with the accused ATV driver still on the run, it’s understandable the grieving father is beyond frustrated. “We didn’t see this coming, and that validated our doubts to some extent,” he told KOAT-TV.

Sergio Almanza, 27, who is charged with homicide by vehicle, tampering with evidence and knowingly leaving the scene of an accident, has chosen to live life on the run rather than face authorities and the Bhattacharya family. A warrant for his arrest was issued Dec. 16, but police say he had already fled from his Belen home by then.

Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers, which can be reached at (505) 843-STOP, has upped its award to $10,830 for information leading to Almanza’s arrest. There are people with information who need to come forward — they can remain anonymous — and do right by Pronoy.

That’s what happened in the Nov. 29 fires set at the Islamic Center of New Mexico. Police released a screenshot from mosque security camera video, which generated tips. A relative of Isela Camarena contacted authorities, was shown security camera images and positively identified her. Camarena was arrested last week and charged with arson and negligent arson. Mosque leadership and the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic relations want her charged with a hate crime as well.

Sergio Almanza (Source: APD)

Camarena and Almanza are innocent until proven guilty. But we are a nation of laws, and it takes each of us stepping up when appropriate to help ensure those laws are enforced and justice is served.

Police and Aditya Bhattacharya urge anyone who knows something to come forward — because obviously there are people out there who know more than they are telling. Witnesses told police the ATV had up to three people in it when it ran a red light and struck Pronoy and his father. A friend led police to the vehicle and said Almanza admitted to the crash, saying “something bad happened” and “I just hit a kid.”

It appears Almanza has abandoned his own young children. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina has issued a video plea to Almanza, saying Pronoy’s “parents would like to see justice, just as you would if someone hurt one of your children.”

It’s past time someone came forward with information on Almanza’s location — for Pronoy’s family, Almanza’s own family and every family that wants to be able to stay here and live in a safe community.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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