Police: Suspect in shootings targeting politicians' homes, offices in custody - Albuquerque Journal

Police: Suspect in shootings targeting politicians’ homes, offices in custody

Mayor Tim Keller, left, and APD Chief Harold Medina announced they have a suspect in custody who they believe is linked to the recent shootings at public officials’ homes and offices. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

Less than a week after Albuquerque police announced they were investigating whether shots fired into the homes of some elected officials and near the offices of others are connected to one another, they say they have a suspect in custody on unrelated charges.

They have also recovered the firearm used in one of the shootings, Police Chief Harold Medina said.

However, he remained tight-lipped on all other details, except to say the suspect is a man under the age of 50. He would not say what he is charged with, when he was arrested, if he was working with anyone else, or where he is being held.

At a news conference announcing the development Monday afternoon, Medina said detectives are still executing search warrants and trying to determine whether the suspect is responsible for all the shootings, or just one.

He said all documents are sealed while investigators build the case.

“We still don’t know the relationship between all these cases,” Medina said.

Nobody was injured in any of the shootings. All cases involved Democrats.

Last week, police reported they were investigating gunshots fired at the homes of Bernalillo County Commissioners Debbie O’Malley and Adriann Barboa, and state Sen. Linda Lopez in December and January. It wasn’t long before shootings were also reported to have occurred near the offices of state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas and Attorney General Raúl Torrez.

And on Monday, the department said investigators found evidence of shots fired at the home of Javier Martinez, the nominee for speaker in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Medina said investigators “have some ideas as to a possible motive,” but it’s too early for them to disclose anything.

“We have got to solidify some information and we don’t want to compromise any part of the investigation,” he said.

Mayor Tim Keller said that, while no one’s home should be targeted in this way, there is a difference when it comes to elected officials. He said since “Day 1” the department has taken the shootings very seriously.

“These are individuals who participate in democracy, whether we agree with them or not,” Keller said. “That’s why this act of violence, I think, has been so rattling for so many people … this is fundamental to how we run, in this case, our state and our county. Elected officials deserve to be able to do their job as part of American democracy without fear and, especially without fear, in their homes.”

State Rep. Javier Martinez, in 2022. After hearing about shootings at the homes of other elected officials Martinez discovered his own home had been shot as well. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

He said investments, changes and “the revamping” that the city has done in APD’s investigative unit has enabled them to “move relatively swiftly to try to put together some of these pieces.”

On Dec. 4, Barboa’s Southeast Albuquerque home was struck with eight rounds.

A week later, on Dec. 11, more than 12 bullets were shot into the walls of O’Malley’s North Valley home. O’Malley was in her final months as a commissioner and is no longer serving on the board.

Then, on Jan. 3, at least eight shots were fired into Lopez’s Southwest Albuquerque home. The bullets passed through her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

Hours after police announced the investigation into the shootings, ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology picked up three shots near the Downtown building where Maestas has his office. There was no damage to the building.

Later that night, APD revealed that detectives were investigating whether gunfire outside Torrez’s campaign office on Dec. 10 was also connected. Torrez had already moved out of the office, which is Downtown on Park NW, after winning the race for attorney general.

Last week, after hearing about the other shootings, Martinez inspected his home in the Valley Area Command and saw that it had been shot up, as well, an APD spokesman said.

“He discovered damage presumably from gunfire heard in early December outside his Albuquerque home,” spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said. “APD detectives went to the home and located evidence of a shooting.”

In a statement, Martinez said he is grateful that he and his family are safe, and they have been working closely with APD while they investigate.

“I share the anger of my fellow elected officials and all those who have been targeted by such senseless acts of violence,” Martinez said. “We’re hopeful that those responsible will be caught and swiftly brought to justice.”

Medina urged the public to contact APD if they have any information.

“A lot of times, individuals speak about their crimes or they speak about something that they are willing to do … ” Medina said. “If you have suspicions, bring it forward; that always helps the investigation. You may have a piece of the puzzle that, combined with somebody else’s piece, will help us complete the puzzle and get warrants.”

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