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Deputies: Intruder’s shooter had pot farm

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A 58-year-old Placitas resident who was awakened by a masked, armed robber early Wednesday knocked away the intruder’s gun with his cane, then fatally shot him, his attorney says.

But when Sandoval County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at the home, they found more than evidence of a shooting.

They found a substantial indoor pot farm.

The home’s resident, Mark Richardson, was growing more than 200 plants in a setup complete with grow lights and fans in his home off N.M. 165, deputies said.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Keith Elder said the indoor pot farm was illegal. Richardson’s attorney, Richard Cravens, said Richardson has a license to grow marijuana for medicinal use, though he said he didn’t know whether that license covered the amount of pot sheriff’s deputies found in the home.

Cravens said Richardson was asleep around 6 a.m. when a masked, armed man broke into his home. Sheriff’s deputies identified the intruder as James Garcia, 31, and said he broke in through a window.

“Garcia was wearing black clothing and a mask, armed with multiple weapons including a handgun,” Elder said.

He pepper-sprayed Richardson’s dog, and Richardson ducked under a blanket to avoid the spray.

Garcia fired one bullet that narrowly missed Richardson’s hip, Cravens said. Richardson then took matters into his own hands.

“He managed to knock the gun out of the intruder’s hand, I believe with his cane,” Cravens said. “He managed to get the gun, and he shot the person, who then died.”

Elder said multiple shots were fired.

It’s unclear whether Garcia knew about the grow operation or targeted Richardson because of it. Deputies found a large amount of cash in the home and believe Garcia was trying to rob Richardson.

Richardson was treated at University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center for a broken hand and cuts on his head and released. He has surgery scheduled for Monday, Cravens said.

Richardson owns the home, in the Las Huertas Mountain Estates subdivision, according to property records.

Cravens said Richardson is a “peaceful” man who doesn’t own any guns and uses marijuana as medicine.

“What a horrendous thing to have happen as a homeowner,” Cravens said. “We’re just thankful that Mr. Richardson’s not dead.”

Elder said that Richardson hasn’t been charged with a crime but may be.

“We won’t know that until the completion of the investigation,” Elder said.

Cravens said the shooting is justified.

“In regards to the assault, the evidence will support what Mr. Richardson said,” Cravens said.

He wouldn’t say what Richardson uses medical marijuana for.

“My client is a pot patient; he does grow his own medicine,” Cravens said. “He’s a peaceful man.”

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