Gunshots have been reported at the homes or offices of 5 local officials. Police think they may be connected. - Albuquerque Journal

Gunshots have been reported at the homes or offices of 5 local officials. Police think they may be connected.

Sen. Linda Lopez shows the bullet holes in her garage door after her home was shot up on Tuesday on Albuquerque’s West Side. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

In nearly 20 years as an elected official, Debbie O’Malley never experienced a threat to her family home.

That changed in the wee hours of Dec. 11.

O’Malley — who was in her final month as a Bernalillo County commissioner — and her husband awoke to what sounded like someone banging on their front door.

“When we got up, I heard four more ‘boom-boom-booms,'” O’Malley recalled in an interview. “I said ‘Those are gunshots.'”

After determining nobody had entered their gate, O’Malley assumed the noise might have come from a neighboring park. But daylight later revealed divots where multiple bullets had struck the home’s adobe wall.

“It’s scattered but it was all aimed to the front porch, where the front door is,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley is not alone. Albuquerque police on Thursday said she is among three local politicians’ whose homes were hit by gunfire since early December.

Police are also investigating a possible connection with gunfire outside a campaign office in December and on Thursday near another politician’s office building in Downtown.

Nobody was injured in the gunfire that struck the homes of O’Malley, Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa and state Sen. Linda Lopez or that occurred near the campaign office for Raúl Torrez and, separately, state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas’ office.

Albuquerque Police Department officials said detectives are trying to determine whether the shootings are related but that it is too soon to know.

APD Chief Harold Medina did, however, note that all of the elected officials are Democrats.

“The evidence will lead us. … The investigation hopefully will determine what’s related and what’s not related,” Medina said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. “But we want to assure everybody that we are taking this seriously.”

An FBI representative said the agency would assist as needed, and Medina said APD also has contacted the New Mexico State Police and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.

The first shooting occurred around 4:41 p.m. on Dec. 4 when someone shot eight rounds at Barboa’s Southeast Albuquerque home, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.

He said on Dec. 10 multiple gunshots were fired in the area of the building that served as Torrez’s campaign headquarters on Park NW, although he had already moved out of the office after winning the Attorney General’s race. Gallegos said officers collected evidence at the scene but did not say if there was any damage.

He said on Dec. 11 someone fired at O’Malley’s North Valley home and “more than a dozen gunshot impacts were identified on walls and the house.”

Gallegos said someone shot at least eight times at Lopez’s home in Southwest Albuquerque after midnight Tuesday.

Lopez said in a statement that three bullets passed through her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

“I’ve been representing my community for 27 years and I’ve had threats off and on based on different pieces of legislation, but this is the first time when something has been done (as) a very personal attack on me and my family,” Lopez told the Journal Thursday as she pointed out a dozen bullet holes around her garage.

The Journal could not reach Barboa on Thursday but the commissioner issued a statement saying the bullets went through her front door, calling it “traumatizing.”

“No one deserves threatening and dangerous attacks like this,” Barboa said. “We ask our fellow New Mexicans to be alert and attentive while the investigation proceeds.”

APD issued a news release about the three incidents at around 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Roughly two hours later, city ShotSpotter technology detected three shots fired in the vicinity of a Downtown building where Maestas has an office. Police said they found no damage to the building. Maestas did not respond to a Journal message seeking comment.

Then, on Thursday evening, Gallegos revealed police were investigating the gunfire outside Torrez’s former campaign office as possibly connected to the other incidents.

O’Malley said she believes her home was specifically targeted since its location is not easily accessible.

“Somebody wanted to hit this house,” said O’Malley, who recently capped nine years on the Bernalillo County Commission after a few terms as an Albuquerque city councilor.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller called the ongoing investigation into the shootings a “high priority.”

“Our elected officials have chosen to serve. They should never be made to feel in danger in the comfort of their own homes, nor should anyone,” he said.

Republican leaders in the New Mexico Senate on Thursday issued a statement saying they are grateful their fellow senators, the other victims and their families have not been injured in the shootings, saying they “eagerly await the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator.”

Journal photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis contributed to this report.


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