Three police officers were shot Saturday in a high-speed chase that tore across the city, culminating in the death of the suspect who had stolen a police cruiser and sprayed bullets as he was pursued.
Two of the injured officers, who are with the Albuquerque Police Department, were listed in stable condition Saturday night and expected to recover. The other was a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy. There was no word on the deputy’s condition.
Authorities did not identify the officers or the suspect, or say how he died.
Police released little information about the events. But numerous witnesses accounts across the city pieced together a picture of a calculated ambush of police officers by a man, wearing camouflage and wielding a high-powered rifle, who led police on a chase from southeast Albuquerque into the North Valley. Witnesses described fleeing or hiding for cover as the bullets flew.
The chase left at least four crime scenes in its wake: Near Broadway and Iron; Broadway and Martin Luther King Jr.; Fourth and Montaño; and
Fourth and Schulte.
Carlos Correa, a tire technician at a shop near Broadway and Iron, said he saw a man washing his black Corvette around 11:30 a.m. The man was
approached by the suspect carrying a gun, which is described in varying accounts as an AK-47 and a semiautomatic rifle, and told him something to the effect of, “I’m not going to hurt you, but call APD and tell them I’m waiting at the bus stop.”
Correa said the suspect then walked across to the east side of Broadway and hunkered down behind a bus stop enclosure and a couple of cars.
When an APD officer arrived, Correa said, the suspect opened fire and he and co-workers fled into their shop. He witnessed one gunshot and heard at least 14 others, Correa told the Journal.
“I wasn’t going to sit around and watch,” he said.
Witnesses north of the scene said they saw an officer arrive, step out of his car and begin firing at the suspect before running backward.
Then, they saw the shooter calmly get into the police officer’s empty car and drive away.
“He done it like real calm,” said witness Ernie Olguin. “I thought he was a cop.”
Hundreds of bystanders were gathered at an event for homeless people at the Salvation Army on Broadway near Coal when the shots rang out.
Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots exchanged between the suspect and police, and one man said the suspect was shooting wildly.
“Everyone went to the floor and then we hid behind RVs in the parking lot,” witness Juan Rivera said. “He was just randomly shooting…”
Michael Givens, an employee at the nearby G Money Smoke Shop, said it appeared the shooter was using a semiautomatic weapon.
“It sounded like a war zone,” he said. “There were bullets whizzing by. It was really close.”
Witnesses said no one at the event was injured and there were no other reports of injuries from elsewhere in the city.
From there, it’s unclear exactly how the chase ended up in the North Valley.
Witnesses said the suspect collected a trail of dozens of police cars during the chase.
At least one other police vehicle was disabled near Broadway and Martin Luther King Jr., where a car was seen surrounded by police tape and had a flat tire.
Eventually, the suspect led police north along Fourth Street to Schulte.
Witness Lori Morgan had just exited her car with her husband at a burger restaurant near Fourth and Osuna a little before noon when the police vehicles flew past. She said the chase went north of her, presumably to Schulte, and she heard six or seven shots. Then the vehicles went past her again heading south and she heard three or four gunshots about 30 seconds later, she said.
The chase eventually ended at a gas station on the northwest corner of the intersection at Fourth and Montaño, where an APD cruiser could be seen Saturday afternoon crumpled against a concrete barrier in front of a gas pump. A police bomb squad robot was also poking around near what appeared to be the body of a young person dressed in camouflage.
Jim Dougherty, an Albuquerque resident, was pulling into the gas station on the way back from a dog park when he saw an APD cruiser barreling toward him in the rearview mirror. He said the driver was trying to speed through the gas station into a neighborhood west of Fourth Street, but instead the suspect swerved to avoid hitting Dougherty at the last minute and struck the gas pump barrier.
“I was the last car,” he said, shaken up. “I was what made him swerve.”
He said he then saw police officers shoot at the suspect three times through the stolen police vehicle’s back windshield. Police would not confirm that the suspect suffered fatal gunshot wounds.
“It was quite frightening,” he said. “It’s not something I’ve ever experienced before.”
The shooting likely happened just before noon, witnesses said.
In a joint statement, APD Chief Allen Banks and Sheriff Dan Houston called the shooting “tragic” and asked witnesses to come forward with information.
Witnesses are asked to call 242-2677 with information.
“We pray that all three will fully recover,” the top law enforcement officials said in the statement. “ … There are multiple scenes as the shooter fired at officers throughout the entirety of this incident. There are a lot of witnesses that still need to be interviewed. We expect the investigation to last for an extended period of time.”
Gov. Susana Martinez issued a statement late Saturday, offering her support to APD, the Sheriff’s Office and their officers.
“My husband is a life-long law enforcement officer, so I fully understand the danger that our police officers face each and every day and the impact it has on their loved ones,” Martinez said. “I ask all New Mexicans to join Chuck and me in keeping these officers and their loved ones in our prayers.”
Journal staff writer Nicole Perez contributed to this report.
5:00 p.m. — Police have confirmed that two Albuquerque police officers and one Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy were shot during the chaotic event Saturday, and they said the person suspected of shooting them is dead.
Police have not identified the shooter. The officers’ families are being notified, according to a joint statement from APD Chief Allen Banks and Sheriff Dan Houston, though the statement did not say what condition the officers are in.
“We pray that all three will fully recover,” the statement reads.
Police are now combing through multiple crime scenes and interview numerous witnesses to retrace the events of Saturday morning and early afternoon. The shooter fired at officers throughout the chase.
Police don’t expect to release any new information tonight.
Police are asking any witnesses to call them at 242-2677.
Keep with ABQJournal.com for updates.
Witnesses described a chaotic string of events that started around 11:30 a.m. today involving multiple officers, dozens of shots fired and what appears to be a car chase from the South Broadway area far into the North Valley.
Two officers — an Albuquerque police officer and a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy — were shot, according to APD Sgt. D.R. Lucero. Both were in stable condition, Lucero said.
The deputy was reportedly shot in the leg, another source said. It was unclear where the APD officer was hit. Police are still gathering details and have not yet released much information.
Multiple witnesses said a man opened fire at officers and stole a police vehicle amid large amounts of gunfire that started near Avenida César Chávez and Broadway SE.
A man was washing his black Corvette before noon near Broadway and Iron when he was approached by a man with a gun who said something to the effect of, “I’m not going to hurt you, but you need to call police and tell them I’m waiting,” witnesses said.
The man with the gun then stood behind a bus stop and waited for police to arrive, said Carlos Correa, a tire technician, who watched the scene unfold from his body shop.
An Albuquerque police officer arrived, Correa said, and the man, who was holding a large rifle, fired at least 15 shots toward an arriving officer. Correa and coworkers fled inside their shop and locked the doors. They only saw the first shot, but said they heard 14 others. They didn’t see if the officer was hit.
Correa said the man was wearing a blue hoodie, but others said he was dressed all in camouflage.
Witnesses north from the scene said they saw an officer arrive, step out of his car and flee the gunfire, before they saw the shooter calmly get into the vacant police officer’s car and drive away. It’s unknown if they are talking about the same officer.
In the North Valley, between 40 and 50 police cars flew north on Fourth Street, but it wasn’t clear what they were pursuing, said witness Lori Morgan, who saw the chase from a burger joint near Fourth and Osuna.
Then, the police cars turned around and headed south on Fourth Street. Southbound Fourth is still closed at Montaño.
Shortly after police passed a second time, witnesses heard six to seven gunshots and then three or four 30 seconds later.
12:28 p.m. — Fourth Street in the North Valley was the scene of a huge police chase and possibly a shooting Saturday around noon, witnesses said.
Between 40 and 50 police cars flew north on Fourh Street, but it wasn’t clear what they were pursuing, said witness Lori Morgan who saw the chase from a burger joint near Fourth and Osuna.
Then the police cars turned around and headed south on Fourth Streeet. Southbound Fourth is still closed.
Shortly after police passed a second time, they heard six to seven gunshots and then three or four 30 seconds later.
At a second scene near Broadway and Cesar Chavez, witnesses said they saw a man in camouflage step into an APD vehicle armed with a rifle and drive away.
Witnesses said they saw an officer drive south on Broadway, screech to a halt and step out of his vehicle. Then he ran backward away from “the bad guy”, said witness Ernie Olguin.
The officer then fired shots while running backward away from his vehicle, witnesses said. They heard additional shots, around 15 in total, but don’t know where they came from
Witnesses said they then saw a man calmly approach the officer’s vehicle and get in.
Keep with ABQjournal.com for updates.