SANTA FE, N.M. — The boy who was shot to death Sunday morning by Española police made the 911 calls reporting himself as a “suspicious person” – and had done the same thing two previous days, according to New Mexico State Police.
In a news release Thursday, State Police identified Victor Villalpando, 16, as the source of the 911 calls and said he identified himself as “James.”
The El Rito youth had called 911 the previous Thursday and Friday, providing details similar to his Sunday call, such as his location and saying that the “suspicious person” was armed with a gun and hitting himself with a stick, according to State Police. The “James” caller also gave a clothing description of the “suspicious person,” but officers were unable to locate the described person after the Thursday and Friday calls.
On Sunday, though, two Española Police officers were eating in a nearby restaurant when the call came a little before 10 a.m. They rushed outside after getting the 911 dispatch and within about a minute officer Jeremy Apodaca had fired one shot, hitting Villalpando in the upper left chest, according to 911 dispatch logs. The shooting took place on Corlett Road and Riverside Drive adjacent to a small strip mall. Villalpando died a short time later at a local hospital.
During the confrontation Apodaca took a stick away from the youth but saw a handgun in Villalpando’s waistband as he did a pat-down search; Apodaca shot the boy after he allegedly pointed a handgun at the officer from a distance of from three to five feet, said Detective Cpl. Solomon Romero of Española Police, who said he has viewed the surveillance video of the shooting.
Villalpando fell to the ground, continued to point the handgun at officers but then threw it aside and pulled a knife and lunged at officers before Officer Ritchie Trujillo wrestled it away, said Romero.
The State Police, who are investigating the shooting, continue to say Villalpando “pointed a weapon at officers” but are not specifying what the weapon was.
Villalpando’s friends and family have been at a loss to explain how the talented dancer, who had been accepted in the fall to the New Mexico School for the Arts, could have placed himself in such a deadly situation on a Sunday morning in downtown Española.
His adoptive mother, Patty Shure, and adoptive brother Jonah Shure expressed disbelief that Villalpando could have had access to a handgun, although he was known to possess a karate stick and knives. Patty Shure is the director of child and family services for Las Cumbres Community Services in Española.
The Shures could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The youth was adopted as an infant and his biological mother, now deceased, had been addicted to alcohol and drugs, a family friend said.
Villalpando had spent the night before his death at a friend’s home and had called his mother that morning for a ride, Jonah Shure said earlier this week.
Emergency dispatch logs of the incident, released on Wednesday, reveal a 911 report of a “crazy kid” in front of a doughnut shop with what looked like a gun. “UNK (unknown) if it is real,” the log states. More 911 call entries say the boy was “not threatening anyone” but was screaming and carrying a martial arts staff.
An officer reports at 9:54 a.m. seeing a boy talking on a cell phone but that he seemed to be OK. Moments later the “crazy kid” is mortally wounded and dying.
A celebration of Villalpando’s life is set for today at 2 p.m. at Moving Arts Española, where he practiced dancing and gymnastics.