A note demanding money. An apparent firearm. A team of undercover detectives.
Those and the names of the three officers who fired their weapons were among the new details Albuquerque police released Tuesday in connection with the fatal shooting on Jan. 7. The police identified the officers as Sgt. Eric Brown and Detectives Russ Carter and Nava Marquez. Carter has been involved in multiple on-duty shootings over the years.
Police said that Gilbert Lovato, 38, used a note to rob a Village Inn before he confronted officers with a BB gun that resembled a real gun.
Audrey Hapke, 35, was Lovato’s accomplice and getaway driver and was arrested after the shooting, police said.
“Officers and witnesses told investigators they observed the offender hold a gun to the female getaway driver’s head,” police said in a news release. “She is now identified as Audrey Hapke (Guzman) and she also told investigators the offender pointed the gun to her head and threatened her life. Officers have also stated the weapon was pointed directly at them and at fellow officers on scene.”
Carter has been with Albuquerque police since 1997. He became a tactical officer in 2002, and has been honored by the department for his work in the K9 unit.
A lawsuit filed against the city alleges that Carter has fired his weapon eight times in the line of duty, not including the recent shooting.
The lawsuit was filed by the family of Jeremy Robertson, who was shot and killed by two SWAT officers in 2014.
According to that lawsuit, Carter shot and killed a dog in 2000; shot at a vehicle in 2003; fired his weapon on two occasions in 2005; fired his weapon during a SWAT standoff in Pecos in 2007; shot Jay Murphy Sr. in 2008; shot Gary Atencio in 2012; and shot at Jeremy Robertson in 2014 while he was assigned to the now-disbanded Repeat Offender Project.
Celina Espinoza, a police spokeswoman, said according to internal affairs records Carter has shot at people four times, dogs twice and a vehicle once.
Carter was charged with a felony in 2008 after he got into a bar fight while on a Department of Energy training session in Fort Smith, Ark.
Carter and other officers “are representative of a culture of aggression at APD,” Laura Ives, an attorney for the Robertson family, wrote in the Robertson lawsuit, which was filed in 2nd Judicial District Court.
Espinoza said Carter’s experience as a tactical officer working dangerous assignments is why he has a high number of shootings.
“This is one our most highly trained officers who has been involved in confronting the worst of the worst offenders,” she said. “His job is really to help clear crimes and cases within the city.”
In the recent shooting, police said that Lovato had committed an armed robbery shortly before the shooting, which happened around midnight on Jan. 7 near Carlisle and Comanche.
Lovato reportedly had been committing about one robbery a week, police said.
The department on Tuesday posted a note on its Twitter page that he allegedly used, reading: “Give me all the money and no 1 (sic) will get hurt” while robbing a Village Inn before he confronted officers during a traffic stop.
The department also posted a picture of a BB gun and said Lovato used the weapon to threaten officers and witnesses prior to the shooting.
“Real or Fake? Offender used this to threaten officers & hostage (A BB gun),” the police Tweeted.
Police said a multi-agency task force responded to the shooting and will complete a report that’s submitted to the District Attorney’s Office.
Espinoza said that all three officers who fired their weapons have been interviewed by authorities and have returned to work.