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Albuquerque police officers shot and killed a man early Sunday morning after he approached those officers Downtown, told them he had a gun and refused orders to drop it, authorities said.
Chief Harold Medina said investigators have retrieved what appears to be an airsoft gun from the scene and noted that the shooting seems to be a suicide by cop. While airsoft guns often resemble regular firearms, they shoot nonlethal pellets.
“We know there’s been an increase of suicide across the nation and it’s unfortunate that that may again be the case here in Albuquerque,” he said.
Medina said the shooting happened as officers were finishing up a call for service at around 3:30 a.m. at Hotel Andaluz near Second and Copper.
He said a vehicle with one person inside approached the officers.
“A male subject from within the vehicle advised officers something to the effect that the individual had a firearm, a gun, and … the officers were going to have to shoot him,” Medina said, adding that officers said they gave the man several commands to drop it.
“The subject apparently did not drop the gun and eventually shots were fired,” he said. “The subject was transported to a local hospital and died of the gunshot wounds he received on scene.”
Sunday’s shooting marks the sixth time Albuquerque police officers have shot someone this year. Five of those shootings have been fatal.
Police have said that in three of the earlier shootings, the person was armed with a gun. In the fourth, the person shot was reported to be armed and was aiming what turned out to be a cellphone – like it was a gun – at officers, according to the Albuquerque Police Department. In the fifth previous incident, police shot and injured an unarmed man suspected of driving a stolen car who extended a key fob in the detectives’ direction.
Medina said the officers in Sunday’s shooting are on standard leave and a Multi-Agency Task Force is investigating, which is standard in shootings involving officers. He asked that anyone who may have witnessed the incident call APD.
The chief also urged anyone who has a family member in crisis to reach out for help.
“It’s important to note that if you have a loved one or a family member who is having a mental crisis or is in need of services or having thoughts to hurt themselves, that (if) you reach out to the city of Albuquerque, the Community Safety Department, the police department, we can send resources out to help with individuals,” Medina said. “This is not the first case this year of an individual using officers as a means to take their own life.”