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A police officer shot and injured a man who threw “large rocks” at him during a foot pursuit early Wednesday morning in Northeast Albuquerque.
Rebecca Atkins, an Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman, said 47-year-old Gabriel Garcia was treated for a gunshot wound and has been booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Atkins said “the officer and (Garcia) were engaged in a confrontation and the subject attempted to injure the officer while throwing large rocks at him.”
It is unclear how large the rocks were but Atkins said they were described to her as “boulders.” She said the officer was not struck by the rocks and no other weapons were recovered.
Atkins said the incident began around 3 a.m. when police spotted Garcia breaking into a DK gas station at Candelaria and Carlisle and chased him a few blocks away – where shots were fired in front of a children’s school.
Atkins said Garcia is charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, breaking and entering, possession of burglary tools, criminal damage to private property and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.
As of Wednesday evening, charging documents could not be found in online court records and Garcia was not on the MDC booking list.
She said the lapel camera of the officer who fired fell off during the chase and he “quickly retrieved it and placed it back on his uniform to continue the foot pursuit.”
Atkins said the shooting happened after the officer put the camera back on.
Hours earlier, APD Chief Harold Medina had said there was a possibility the dislodged lapel camera hadn’t captured the shooting.
“I’m grateful our officers are safe and followed appropriate procedure through our reform process,” Medina said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Maintaining full transparency is of the utmost importance as we serve the community.”
The incident marked the second time in less than 24 hours that law enforcement shot someone in the metro area. Bernalillo County deputies shot and killed a man following a vehicle pursuit Tuesday afternoon in the South Valley.
Wednesday’s shooting was the 13th time Albuquerque police have shot at someone this year; seven of those were fatal. There were 10 Albuquerque police shootings in all of 2021, four of which were fatal.
Wednesday’s incident was not Garcia’s first interaction with APD.
His last run-in with police happened blocks away from where he was shot.
On Aug. 12, according to police, Garcia hit the cashier of the DK gas station with a metal bar after he was banned from the store for stealing liquor.
A judge granted a motion to keep Garcia behind bars until trial but the case was dismissed and he was released from MDC on Aug. 29 when the cashier didn’t show up to a hearing.
Wednesday’s incident began with a reported break-in at the same DK gas station.
Medina said that, sometime before 4:30 a.m., a sergeant saw a man “who appeared to be tampering and possibly trying to break into” the convenience store near Candelaria and Carlisle NE.
He said the man ran away as police tried to determine whether he had actually broken into the location. Medina said a foot chase ensued.
“One officer did discharge their firearm and the subject continued to flee,” Medina said. He said the man, later identified as Garcia, was found a few blocks away and had sustained a gunshot wound.
“Over the next several months, APD will continue to investigate and analyze this incident,” Atkins said. “Detectives will continue interviewing any new witnesses that come forward and complete any forensic tests.”
The shooting happened near the Altamonte Child Development Center and windows of the school could be seen shattered as investigators combed the area. An orange evidence marker had been placed beside a bullet hole in one of the school’s windows, beside a window with colorful decorations – children’s names on cut-out apples and the words “PreK-B Welcome.”
Lorena Foust, owner of the school, said a few windows of the preschool building were damaged by gunfire and they told parents not to bring their preschool-age children in for the day.
“Luckily, it didn’t happen while the business was in operation,” she said. “Our main concern with closing the building was for the safety reason of keeping the children from seeing that.”
Foust said they are already having the windows fixed or boarded up and will reopen Thursday.
Journal assistant city editor Aubrey Hovey contributed to this report.