A DEADLY YEAR - Albuquerque Journal

A DEADLY YEAR

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Yellow crime scene tape swung listlessly on both sides of the Montaño Bridge.

The often bustling roadway was empty Saturday morning aside from a few police vehicles and two RV-like mobile crime labs. Nearby, a white Ford truck had crashed through a wall east of the river.

Adobe bricks were strewn atop the cracked windshield and bullet holes dotted the driver’s side door. Beside the truck a man lay on his back motionless – facing a gray sky that seemed to hold a chill over the city.

He was the 115th person killed in a homicide in Albuquerque this year, setting the mark for the highest one-year total in recorded history with December just underway.

The record was previously set in 2021 with 117 homicides by year’s end around the city but at least three of those have since been ruled self-defense shootings or otherwise. Before that, the highest total was in 2019 with 81 homicides.

The back-to-back record highs of 2021 and 2022 didn’t come as much of a surprise – and was less a question of if it would be reached than when – as the city notched an exceedingly violent run from spring into fall.

There were 69 people killed from May through September this year, the lowest monthly total in that stretch being the 10 homicides in July.

Outside of city limits, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office has recorded 19 homicides in 2022, the agency’s highest total in recent memory.

Before 2022, BCSO had fluctuated between 11 homicides in 2021 and five homicides in 2017, largely sidestepping the sharp spikes seen by the Albuquerque Police Department.

In 2021 and previous years, the violence wasn’t as relentless – even with the usual summer increases – and homicides were more evenly spread across the year.

The Saturday morning incident had all the markings of road rage.

Officer Chase Jewell, an APD spokesman, said police responded around 5 a.m. to a single-vehicle crash on Montaño NW at the river. He said police found the truck’s driver, a man, dead at the scene.

“It was discovered this individual had sustained multiple gunshot wounds,” Jewell said. “Homicide detectives are activated and will be taking over the investigation.”

Police vehicles and mobile crime labs line Montaño east of the river on Saturday morning after a man was found shot to death inside a crashed truck. The incident marked the 115th homicide in the city this year, breaking the all-time record of 114 set last year. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

It was the third time in just over a month that police have responded to a vehicle crash and found someone shot to death. In the most recent, on Nov. 23, officers found a man dead in a vehicle that crashed into a home in Southeast Albuquerque.

This year has seen more double homicides, more youthful victims and suspects and more females losing their lives.

In 2022, there have been seven double homicides compared with three doubles and one triple in 2021. Ten of those killed and seven of those arrested in 2022 cases were under 17 compared with four killed and three arrested in 2021 – numbers similar to previous years.

Four of the seven teens charged in homicides this year were arrested in a single case — one of mistaken identity in which 28-year-old Kayla Montano was fatally shot while in the car with her daughter and fiance.

An obituary described Montano as “a beautiful soul.”

Montano had battled mental illness and was going on three years sober, according to the obituary, a choice she made to be in her daughter’s life. She was set to be married later in the year.

“On her good days she was a loving, caring person who touched many lives,” the obituary read. “… There is nothing that Kayla loved more than her child, while due to her mental illness, she was unable to parent her, she still loved her to pieces.”

Montano was one of more than two dozen females killed so far in 2022 – a year that has been particularly deadly for females.

From the beating death of a 5-month-old girl to the dismemberment of a woman on Thanksgiving, 26 females have been slain this year. By comparison, there were only 16 females killed in 2021, 13 in 2020 and 19 in 2019.

Recently, there has also been a rash of homeless men slain in Albuquerque, with three being killed in the past month and a total of five so far this year.

The first homicide recorded by local authorities in 2022 was on Jan. 5 when deputies found the decomposed body of Sara Llamas on a ditch bank near Montaño and the river.

It was a stone’s throw from Saturday’s scene.

Kate Brennan ducked underneath the crime scene tape on Saturday morning as she and her white Lab, Scout, walked the ditch bank. She peeked at the truck before the pair moved along.

“I hate all the violence, crime, I hate it all,” Brennan said. “I have zero idea on the solution and we’re not the only place but it does taint Albuquerque so badly.”

She lamented the gun violence that has taken root in the place she has called home for nearly four decades. Brennan recalled when cows roamed the area where Montaño now stands.

Nowadays, she said, somebody will pull a trigger “because they didn’t get their french fries hot – or this or that.”

“You can’t stop those kind of things,” Brennan said. “It gives any person the power over someone else immediately just because they have a gun.”

The crime scene made her recall stumbling across a fatal crash years ago in the North Valley. She remembers the eerie sound of the radio still playing from the wreckage.

But Saturday’s scene was mostly quiet.

The silence was punctuated by the prehistoric-like calls of cranes meandering in a field to the north, picking at the ground around pumpkin carcasses and the skeletons of old tractors.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » A DEADLY YEAR

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Grammer: When it comes to fans, the obnoxious few ...
ABQnews Seeker
Utah State guard Max Shulga showed ... Utah State guard Max Shulga showed class in his response to unacceptable taunts from a few Colorado State students.
2
Man critically injured in Santa Fe shooting
ABQnews Seeker
A man was critically injured after ... A man was critically injured after being shot in a Santa Fe apartment complex on Saturday night.
3
Three teenagers found dead in garage in Edgewood
ABQnews Seeker
Police said in a news release ... Police said in a news release there is no indication of foul play and it appears to have been carbon monoxide poisoning.
4
Man, woman killed in Hobbs hit-and-run crash
ABQnews Seeker
A man and a woman were ... A man and a woman were killed in Hobbs on Friday night after being struck by a vehicle while walking their dog, according to ...
5
Child, 10, allegedly sexually assaulted by foster teen at ...
ABQnews Seeker
The offices of the state child ... The offices of the state child welfare agency are used to house foster children despite New Mexico’s promise to provide them with appropriate homes.
6
Civilians fill in for sworn officers at Albuquerque Police ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said ... Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said he sees hiring civilians as "the forefront of the wave of the future." He added: "The civilians are ...
7
How close did Albuquerque come to a record-high temperature?
ABQnews Seeker
Temperatures in the Duke City reached ... Temperatures in the Duke City reached 63 degrees, said Jennifer Shoemake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. That was the warmest ...
8
Study says New Mexico turning blind eye to several ...
ABQnews Seeker
A UNM study argues that the ... A UNM study argues that the state government, in its efforts to meet climate goals, stops short of requiring cuts to greenhouse gas emissions ...
9
5 things going on in Albuquerque this week
ABQnews Seeker
From hoops to a mid-week show, ... From hoops to a mid-week show, here’s what’s happening in the Albuquerque next week.