Suspect shows up at shooting at New Mexico official’s home


ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Authorities in New Mexico’s largest city said a suspect believed to be linked to at least one of the shootings at or near the homes or offices of several elected officials was in custody Monday, but they declined to release his name.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said the man was being held on unrelated charges and that detectives were still awaiting the results of several outstanding search warrants filed in the investigation.

“We’re just waiting for some of the information to make sure everything we have, that the case we’re building is as strong as possible and to see what other aspects are involved,” Medina said.

Authorities would not say what charges the man is being held on.

They did confirm that officers seized a firearm linked to the suspect that was used in the home shooting, but have not yet determined whether it was related to any of the other weapons, which took place between early December and early January.

No one was injured in the shootings, which come amid an increase in threats to members of Congress, school administrators, election officials and other government employees across the country. In Albuquerque, police are grappling with years of record homicides and ongoing gun violence.

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In the latest case to come to light, Albuquerque Democrat Javier Martinez, the incoming state House speaker, inspected his home following reports last week of gunshots fired at other officials’ homes or near their offices.

Police went to Martinez’s home after discovering what they believed to be damage from gunfire heard in early December. The detectives said they found traces of a shooting.

Martinez said in a statement that he was thankful he and his family were safe.

“We have been working closely with the Albuquerque Police Department in investigating this gun violence in our home,” he said. “I share the anger of my fellow elected officials and all those who are the targets of such senseless acts of violence.”

Martinez, the former leader on the majority floor, will assume a new leadership role when the Democratic-led legislature meets for a 60-day session next week.

Public safety and gun control are expected to be among the top issues as the chorus of residents feeling unsafe in Albuquerque and elsewhere has reached fever pitch.

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Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said at a news conference that there is a difference when elected officials are involved.

“These are individuals who participate in democracy, whether we agree with them or not, which is why I think this act of violence has been so shocking to so many people,” Keller said. “Again, regardless of their background or regardless of their beliefs…those elected officials deserve to be able to do their jobs as part of American democracy without fear.”

The shootings began in early December when eight bullets were fired at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa, police said. Days later, someone shot at the home of former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley.

Technology that can detect the sound of gunfire also pointed to shots fired near New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez’s former campaign office. Police found no damage.

Multiple shots were also fired at the home of Senator Linda Lopez — a lead sponsor of a 2021 bill that overturned New Mexico’s ban on most abortion procedures — and in a downtown area where Senator Moe Maestas’ office is located. Maestas, a lawyer, co-sponsored a bill last year to establish new criminal penalties for threatening state and local judges. It didn’t happen.

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Both Democratic and Republican state legislators have called on the public to provide information that could help law enforcement.

The eruption of gunfire in Albuquerque on any given day is not unusual. Police began using the ShotSpotter detection system in 2020 in areas where data showed violence was common.

As of last October, police reported nearly 9,000 ShotSpotter alerts since early 2022. Of those, the department said more than 1,200 helped identify dozens of suspects and victims.

Some have criticized the reliance on the technology. A 2021 The Bharat Express News investigation, based on a review of thousands of internal documents, confidential contracts, and interviews with dozens of public defenders in communities where ShotSpotter has been deployed, revealed a number of serious flaws in using the technology as evidence for public prosecutors.

The Albuquerque Police Department did not respond Monday to a request for updated information on the number of detections over the past year or the number of reports of gunfire hitting homes or businesses in the city.