Officials provided updates on two shootings by Albuquerque police that occurred in the last two months — one in which they say an accused killer exchanged fire with officers, but was not hit, and the other in which an unarmed suspect was critically injured.
Investigations by the Multi-Agency Task Force and Internal Affairs are ongoing.
Police Chief Harold Medina said the first case highlighted how the officers were in danger and “how difficult it is for our law enforcement officers in today’s climate.”
The second shooting marks the second time this year that officers have shot an unarmed suspect. Officers have shot at seven people total, killing four, injuring one and missing two.
In response to questions, Medina said the Force Review Board — made up of command staff and others — will look at the most recent case to see if there was anything that could be done differently regarding training or policies.
“One of the things I think about is it’s always good for us to slow things down,” Medina said. “For us to use the establishment of perimeters.”
No one injured
A little after 3 a.m. on March 29, officers were flagged down at the Ambassador Inn, on Candelaria NE near the Pan American Freeway, because security guard Heath Mora had been killed. Security camera footage shows a man — later identified as 44-year-old Donovan Bookout — enter a hallway in the hotel and shoot Mora, unprovoked. Mora died at the scene.
Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock with the Criminal Investigations Division said more officers arrived in the area and saw Bookout carjack a truck near the hotel. As officers tried to stop him he fled and crashed into a police unit, Hartsock said.
Officers followed Bookout and he eventually turned into an empty driveway for a business on Candelaria.
“The subject Donovan Bookout then exited the truck armed with a pistol and immediately began shooting at officers who were still in their vehicles as they were pulling up,” Hartsock said. “Officer (Justin) Collins and Sgt. (Andrew) Herpolsheimer both fired back at Donovan.”
Police released lapel camera video, however, the security camera footage shows the clearest view of the shooting. They also released photos of two police cruisers with bullet holes in the bottom of the doors and a silver and black Smith & Wesson handgun that was found at the scene. Hartsock said the gun has not been reported stolen and detectives are still investigating its origins.
Neither Bookout nor the officers were injured.
Bookout lay down on the ground, face down, and surrendered. He was arrested and has been indicted on charges of murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer and other crimes. He is awaiting a competency evaluation “because there is a reasonable belief that the defendant may not be competent to stand trial,” according to court documents.
Bookout’s attorney said his client “is innocent until proven guilty and we’re still investigating the case.”
Officer Collins has been with APD since 2018 and Sgt. Herpolsheimer has been there since 2009. Neither has been involved in any other shootings.
Hartsock said both are back on duty.
Suspect was unarmed
Around 9:45 p.m. on April 12 officers found a red Chevy Volt on Central and Pennsylvania that had been reported stolen in Santa Fe earlier in the day.
Hartsock said officers tried to pull the car over but the driver fled. They were able to attach a GPS device called a StarChase to the car. At some point a passenger got out and said his brother Shannon Candelario, from Algodones, was driving. He reportedly said he did not know if he was armed or had any drugs on him.
Officers caught up with 46-year-old Candelario at the Motel 6 on Central and Tramway and watched him enter the lobby.
“Detectives and officers came into the parking lot and — while making the plan to arrest the subject if he walked back out — observed the driver exit the motel and start to walk towards the stolen car,” Hartsock said. “An officer observed the subject put his hand in his pocket and pull out an unknown object in response (to orders) from police to surrender.”
The detectives followed Candelario, their guns drawn. On his lapel camera video Detective Jerry Arnold can be heard saying “I can’t see what’s in his hands. I think it’s a knife” as he follows behind him with his gun drawn.
Then, as Candelario opened the driver’s side door he raised his hand and Detective Damian Lujan — who had approached from the back of the car — fired. Arnold also fired a shot but his bullet hit the car.
Candelario was not armed and instead had been carrying a black key fob with a red metal lock attached to it.
Hartsock said the detective “said in the statement that he thought that he pulled a black handgun out of his pocket.”
Candelario was taken to the hospital and then booked into jail on May 20 for a bench warrant for not complying with pretrial services. He was released Thursday.
He is not facing any charges related to the shooting or car theft and Hartsock said they are still investigating the case. The Journal could not reach Candelario, his family or attorney for comment.
Police did not release photos of Lujan and Arnold because they work in sensitive investigative units — the gun violence street team and the auto theft unit respectively.
Lujan has been with APD since 2007 and has been involved in three previous shootings — in 2011, 2019 and 2020. Arnold has been with APD since 2003 and has not been involved in any previous shootings.
Both detectives are back on duty in their positions.