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Albuquerque police postpone briefing on ‘recent events’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Police Department officials decided early Friday afternoon to postpone a briefing they’d scheduled to discuss “recent events,” likely referring to both a massive police chase last Saturday that resulted in injuries to three officers and one sheriff’s deputy and a Monday officer-involved shooting.

The department said it needed more time to interview police detectives.

“There is an extensive amount of information to debrief,” APD spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said in an email.

The briefing is scheduled to happen today at 9 a.m., exactly a week after police said Christopher Chase, 32, ambushed officers with an automatic rifle, stole a police vehicle and led a trail of officers across the city – all the while spraying bullets at his pursuers. Chase was found dead after crashing the police cruiser at a gas station near Fourth and Montaño after leading police as far west as Rio Grande Boulevard and as far north as Ranchitos Road.

Two days later, Albuquerque police officer Brian Pitzer shot armed robbery and carjacking suspect Joaquin Ortega, 34, near Central and Washington. An account about the shooting from one of Ortega’s alleged victims, as told to the Journal, differs from witness testimony included by an APD officer in the resulting criminal complaint.

The victim claims Pitzer fired at Ortega’s back as Ortega ran away, even after Ortega ditched his gun. Unnamed witnesses in the complaint told police that Ortega threatened the officer before running away, then turned back and shot at him.

Among the bigger questions still unanswered:

  • How Chase was able to steal a police vehicle;
  • The department’s overall strategy in stopping Chase as events unfolded Saturday;
  • How Chase died;
  • Chase’s motive in the ambush; and
  • At what point in the chase each officer was shot.

Also, regarding Monday’s shooting, police have not said:

  • Why the victim’s account was not included in the criminal complaint;
  • What prompted Pitzer to shoot Ortega; and
  • How many times Pitzer fired and how many times Ortega was hit.

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