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Gunfire mangles speed sign

SANTA FE, N.M. — Motorists traveling on Agua Fria Street in south Santa Fe now are getting a mangled message from a sign intended to warn speeders to slow down.

That’s because someone used a small-caliber weapon to shoot the $3,500 electronic sign, which is supposed to tell drivers how fast they’re traveling.

Now, the sign seems to say, for instance, “3C” instead of 30 underneath the words “Your Speed” and 25 mph speed limit sign.

The speed sign on Agua Fria near the San Isidro Catholic Church was damaged by gunfire sometime around Oct. 8, said Santa Fe Sheriff’s Lt. William Pacheco.

One of the two rounds fired at the sign broke through a Plexiglas covering on the sign’s screen and damaged lights that display a driver’s speed. Now, only half of one of the numbers light up.

The signs work by gauging a vehicle’s speed using radar. As the vehicle approaches the sign, the vehicle’s speed is displayed on a screen, serving as notice to motorists about whether they’re speeding.

The device does not take video, so the deputies do not have any pictures of the shooting. However, Pacheco said the case is under investigation and deputies will ask nearby community members if they saw anything.

Pacheco said the county put the sign up after getting complaints of speeders from residents in Agua Fria Village. He said the sign helped because deputies can’t be everywhere to hunt for speeders. The device helps slow vehicles down by grabbing the attention of the drivers.

“It’s a tool,” Pacheco said. “It’s a great tool for law enforcement.”

Pacheco said the signs typically cost about $3,500, according to information he received from the county Public Works department. He said the sign may cost just as much to repair, so the county may replace the sign altogether.