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Argument at store preceded fatal shooting by deputy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A South Valley gas station clerk whose 911 call Monday afternoon set off a series of events that resulted in a fatal law enforcement shooting said it all began with an argument inside the store and a plea for help.

Francisco Mendoza said a man and a woman walked into his store on the corner of Gun Club and Coors SW in a heated argument around 5:15 on Monday afternoon. The woman asked him to call police, but he at first saw no reason.

“But I said, ‘You guys are just arguing,’ ” Mendoza told the Journal in a Tuesday interview.

Then the man, who was described as older and Hispanic, grabbed the woman’s arm and tried forcing and dragging her to his truck outside. Mendoza called police.

He also said a younger woman entered the store, and appeared to be related to them based on snippets he heard of the argument, but she left just as the disagreement turned violent. He said he heard her shout something to the man to the effect of: “I never get into your relationships. Why are you getting into mom’s?”

The driver of the red truck, who rammed his vehicle into the driver’s side door of a sheriff’s vehicle Monday night, was shot and killed by the trapped deputy. (Roberto E Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The driver of the red truck, who rammed his vehicle into the driver’s side door of a sheriff’s vehicle Monday night, was shot and killed by the trapped deputy. (Roberto E Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Mendoza said he didn’t catch much of the argument, but he did hear the man say something similar to “You’ll do what I tell you. My word is law.”

The gas station has turned over surveillance video of the encounter to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, whose deputy was involved in the fatal shooting. Mendoza did not see deputies arrive or what happened next.

A BCSO spokesman said late Monday that a deputy arrived after getting “numerous calls” that a man was trying to force a woman or women into his vehicle.

The woman was able to escape from the suspect and fled in another vehicle, and the suspect then began ramming into her vehicle with his red truck, spokesman Sgt. Aaron Williamson said. The vehicle was disabled, and Williamson said “early reports” suggest two women then were seen running from the car on foot as the suspect tried to run them over.

The suspect then turned his attention to the deputy and began ramming his vehicle, Williamson said. Neither the suspect nor the deputy has been identified.

“The suspect rammed the driver’s door of the deputy’s car. After ramming the vehicle a second time, the suspect got out of his pickup truck, at which point the deputy, trapped in the vehicle, fired at least once and hit the suspect,” Williamson said in an email Monday.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Cell phone video obtained by KOAT-TV from a witness shows the red truck driving more than 5 mph into a BCSO car, and then getting out. No shots are heard in the video, but it shows the apparently shirtless man crumpling to the ground, and his body lying about 5 feet from the two cars.

It’s unclear from the video if the suspect rammed the deputy’s car more than once, or if he was walking toward the deputy when he got out. He was shot within seconds of getting out.

Williamson said a news conference would be held this afternoon, during which more information would be released, including the suspect’s identity.

Journal staff writer Nicole Perez contributed to this report.

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