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Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Officers Confront Man With Knife in Downtown ABQ
By Jeff Proctor
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
Chandler Todd Barr had been in and out of foster care in Oklahoma since he was a young child, according to his former foster mother.
At some point, the 19-year-old made his way to Albuquerque, where, according to police, he recently was treated at University of New Mexico Hospital's mental health facility.
Albuquerque Police officer Leah Kelly has been on the force four years. On Tuesday morning, she and her partner were about to start their bike patrol shift Downtown.
The encounter between Barr, who police say was armed with a knife, and Kelly in a busy Downtown intersection around 8:15 a.m. led to Albuquerque's 11th officer-involved shooting of 2010.
Barr was rushed to UNM Hospital after the shooting and was listed in stable condition as of Tuesday evening.
Barr had gone into the Greyhound bus station at First and Central early Tuesday with a ticket to return to Oklahoma, according to police. A ticket agent told him that there would be an additional charge, and Barr became upset.
He returned a short time later, witnesses told police. He was bleeding from the wrists and carrying a knife.
Police received a call at 8:13 a.m. about Barr. The caller reported that Barr may have walked through the parking structure at Second and Silver and headed north up Second Street.
Kelly and another officer arrived within three minutes and confronted Barr in the intersection at Second and Central, authorities said.
After the officers got out of their cars, they immediately began ordering Barr to drop the knife, Police Chief Ray Schultz said at a news conference about an hour and a half after the shooting. Barr did not comply, the chief said, and instead continued to advance on the officers.
Kelly fired two shots, striking Barr in the upper chest, Schultz said.
Police were unable to say Tuesday how far Barr was from the officers when he was shot.
"Both officers are very shaken up," Schultz said. "The last thing you want within an hour of starting your shift is to find yourself involved in a deadly force situation."
Kelly was placed on standard three-day leave.
Of the 11 officer-involved shootings this year, seven of the suspects have died. Last year, there were six shootings.
Asked by a reporter if he could explain the increase, Schultz responded: "There's no reason for what's going on inside someone's mind. Again, we have an apparent mental health issue, and the fact that he was armed with a deadly weapon. ... The officers have a responsibility to protect themselves and everyone else in the area."
Tuesday's shooting, like the other 10 from this year, is under investigation by a multiagency team.
Schultz said an officer from APD's Crisis Intervention Team had been dispatched to try to talk to Barr, but the officer arrived a minute too late.
He said Barr had told the Greyhound ticket agent that he had "very recently" been released from UNM Hospital's Downtown mental health facility.
A UNM Hospital spokesman said he could neither confirm nor deny that claim.
Reached by telephone in Enid, Okla., Samantha Feeney, Barr's former foster mother, said Barr had been in and out of foster care since he was a young child.
Feeney would not discuss any mental health diagnoses Barr may have received.
"We had been his foster parents when he was about 17," she said. "We just took care of him. He had his own issues with family and things. Why else would he be in foster care?"
Feeney said she had heard Barr had been back in Oklahoma in recent months, but she had not seen him for quite some time.
Streets in the middle of Downtown were closed for several hours after the shooting.
Second and Gold were reopened shortly after noon; Second and Central were reopened several hours later.
All city bus routes in and out of the Alvarado Transportation Center and First and Central were detoured or delayed for several hours.