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A northwest New Mexico man is accused of opening fire on a vehicle full of relatives – killing his 14-year-old nephew – after being called to resolve a dispute at his mother’s home last month near Cuba.
Rodgerick Tsosie of Pueblo Pintado is charged with second-degree murder and offenses committed within Indian Country in the May 16 incident. The 29-year-old was arrested two days after the shooting and booked into the Navajo Department of Corrections.
Tsosie’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court does not give a motive for the shooting. The teenage nephew is identified only by his initials, H.T.
Authorities said Tsosie’s brother and girlfriend got into a fight outside the mother’s home in Torreon. The pair were both inebriated, and Tsosie was called and asked to help “as he does not drink alcohol.”
The girlfriend, brother and his three sons left in a silver Jeep before Tsosie made it to the house, according to the complaint. A witness told FBI agents they were in Cuba when they saw a silver sedan pull alongside the Jeep and heard two gunshots before the back window shattered.
The witness said the sedan fled as the Jeep stopped and a woman got out screaming. The witness told agents the woman was holding pressure to a teen’s head as other children sat in the backseat.
The witness asked “do you know who did this?” and the driver replied “yeah, my brother Rodger Tsosie,” according to the complaint. The witness, who was an off-duty paramedic, drove the teen to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The driver, Tsosie’s brother, told agents his brother shot his son and “was in a rampage.” He said Tsosie had a handgun and a rifle.
Agents went to Tsosie’s home and took him into custody, telling him his nephew was dead, according to the complaint. He told agents when he drove past his brother’s Jeep he “heard two pops.”
Speaking in Navajo, Tsosie told agents he took “a warning shot” with a rifle at the Jeep and said, “I guess I’ll take the fall for it.”
Tsosie then told agents he had been wrestling over the rifle with his brother outside their mother’s home when it went off – shooting his nephew, according to the complaint. Agents went to the mother’s home and relatives told them the brothers were not at the house at the same time on May 16.