By all appearances, it was a normal day on the bus.
A man in the back listlessly scrolls through his phone. A few rows ahead, another man sits beside a young girl.
Then, without warning, a third man sitting alone pulls out a large gun, aims it and – in an explosion of smoke and glass – fires into a glass door of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus.
Security video shows the shooter grab the weapon and his belongings and head for the door. The man in the back covers his ears, a look of pure terror on his face, and the young girl peeks over the shoulder of the man shielding her.
At the next stop, the man with the gun gets off as two passengers get on and take their seats like nothing happened.
Police say they’ve identified the shooter as 52-year-old Allen Salazar and have issued a warrant for his arrest in the Aug. 6 incident. Salazar faces charges of shooting at or from a motor vehicle, criminal damage to property and negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Police said Salazar told the driver afterward that it “was an accident,” and the driver told officers Salazar rides the Central bus in Nob Hill up to four times a week.
An ABQ Ride spokeswoman would not say if there have been other shooting incidents on the city bus in recent years.
A breakdown provided to the Journal shows that, between January and June, there were 16 security calls for an assault and 28 for a fight either on the bus or at a stop.
In that time period, out of the total 3,516 security calls, 450 were for the ART bus route – more than any other line.
Court records show Salazar has been arrested in cases of aggravated assault upon a peace officer resulting in great bodily harm, cruelty to animals and DWI. His most recent arrests, in 2019, were for allegedly pulling a bag of cannabis out in front of an officer and pushing a relative when she confronted him about growing cannabis in her yard.
In 2020, according to court records, a relative filed a restraining order against Salazar, saying he is a “known violent felon” with a “history of schizophrenia and drug abuse.”
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Metropolitan Court:
The Aug. 6 incident happened around 1:15 p.m. and police responded shortly after.
An investigator sent an email throughout the department with the shooter’s picture, and a sergeant identified the man as Salazar.
Officers were told the damage to the bus was more than $2,600 and the other riders left after declining to give their information to police. Police said after the shooting, someone on the bus yelled, “What the hell was that,” and Salazar became aggressive and yelled “multiple vulgar words.”
Police said Salazar then told the driver “it was an accident, give them my information, call the cops, I’ll be right here.”
“During that statement, (Salazar) exits the camera view and does not come back,” according to the affidavit. The bus driver told police he has been driving the Central route for three or four months.
The driver said he had seen the shooter two to four times a week and he is typically “quiet and sits by himself.” The driver told police the man rides the bus between Solano and University.
Police showed the bus driver an MVD photo of Salazar and he said “it looks like him if he had a mustache.” Photos included in the affidavit showed Salazar with and without a mustache in MVD and jail booking photos.