On Thursday, August 19, four Albuquerque Police Officers were injured following a shooting in northeast Albuquerque. The shooting happened as officers responded to a robbery by the Dutch Bros. near Mountain and Juan Tabo. Two suspects are in custody related to the incident.
The first suspect was wounded and taken into custody shortly after the shooting unfolded. The first suspect was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) for medical treatment. APD announced via Twitter at 12:34 a second suspect was taken into custody. APD believe there are no other outstanding offenders however several others were detained in the process of the investigation.
During a news briefing at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMHS), it was reported that one officer is in critical condition after being shot in the base of the neck above their bulletproof vest. A second officer was shot in the arm, third officer was shot in the center of his bulletproof vest, both are expected to to have a full recovery. The fourth officer was injured with either shrapnel or glass in the eye. APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said an APD service aide rendered aid to the officer that was shot in the arm – using a tourniquet to save the officer’s life.
Several APS schools including Kennedy Middle School, Jackson Middle School, Chelwood Elementary School, Tomasita Elementary School, McCollum Elementary School and Manzano High School were ordered to shelter in place after the shooting. At 12:27 p.m., shelter in place orders were lifted at those schools.
Authorities from Sandoval County, Valencia County, Rio Rancho County, FBI, the Bernalillo County Sherriff Office, NM State Police and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office were called in to assist. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) for its part confirmed that a fatal crash on I-40 in the east mountains involved a person of interest in the case. BCSO said the person was fleeing from police when the crash happened.
According to news reports, APD Police has charged by criminal complaint in Metro Court a person identified as James Ramirez, 27, of Los Angeles with three counts of aggravated battery against a police officer, armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a felon and resisting evading or obstructing an officer. Ramirez has no criminal history in New Mexico but, according to court records, is a convicted felon in California.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court:
“A man called police around 8:30 a.m. and reported that he had been robbed at gunpoint and had located the two men who robbed him in Northeast Albuquerque. He told police he had been walking on Western Skies when two men approached him and asked him if he wanted to buy drugs.
The man said he declined and one of the men pulled out a black pistol and “demanded everything he had,” taking his wallet, shoes, backpack, gold necklace and a Playstation that was in the backpack. He told police a friend drove him around looking for the robbers and they saw the men around Juan Tabo and Copper.
The man met with officers Verbeck and Eichel and identified the suspects as two men walking near Summer and Juan Tabo, telling the officers that one of the men was armed. As the officers approached, the two men ran south down an alleyway and the officers gave chase.
One of the suspects, later identified as Ramirez, “suddenly” fired at the officers and struck both of them before the officers shot back. [According to the witness/victim:
“I later observed the officers’ on-body recording devices and observed the officers getting shot and bleeding profusely”.
The complaint states:
“Sgt. Kenny and Officer Gunderson arrived near Dutch Bros Coffee Shop and saw Ramirez ducking behind a vehicle. Gunderson told Ramirez to drop the gun and Ramirez fired at him. The officers returned fire. Gunderson was struck in his vest, and Kenny was hit by glass and fragments as he took cover behind his vehicle.
Ramirez and the officers continued to exchange gunfire until Ramirez was struck and fell to the ground. The officers rendered aid to Ramirez until he was taken to the hospital. Police found the robbery victim’s ID and credit card in Ramirez’s wallet.
The second suspect, a “smaller skinny” man, was seen running south down the alley “and has not been identified or apprehended.”
The link to quoted source material is here:
WITNESS NEWS INTERVIEWS
A witness in the area told KOAT crews that he heard at least 50 gunshots from what he said sounded like a semi-automatic weapon.
According to a KOB news report, Estaban Ortiz said that he was in line at the Dutch Bros when he suddenly saw two people with backpacks run by his car. He heard police yell at one of them to drop the gun – but the suspect kept on shooting at them. According to Ortiz:
“He fell down, he had extended magazines, with what appeared to be a 9mm pistol. … He unloaded the first one completely. After he fell on the floor, he took out that unloaded one, pulled another one out, another extended magazine, popped it back in, and as he was being shot on the floor, he kept returning fire.”
Ortiz said he was terrified the suspect would eventually turn and shoot at him.
The link to the quoted source material is here:
According to a News 13 report, Becki Dougherty’s aunt lives within sight of the Dutch Bros and said she rushed outside when she heard the gunshots and said:
“All I could see was people trying to get out of that parking lot as fast as they could, but there’s only one way out. And, I just continuously heard the pop, pop, pop.”
Dougherty said drivers were in line to get their coffee and scrambled to get out of there. She added that she was scared that there was still one suspect on the run for hours.
Andrea Sanchez said her husband was in their backyard when gunshots rang out when she rushed outside to check on him and she found her husband helping an APD officer who was hit. Sanchez said:
“I saw him, arm in arm next to a cop and I thought for a second he might have got shot but it was the cop who got shot and he was carrying him here in the back alley and brought him to safety and the cop went in the ambulance.
The link to the quoted source material is here:
Richard Griego, a manager of Goodwill across the street, told the Albuquerque he was sitting in his car when he heard what sounded like a couple of car backfires and stated:
“I rolled down my window and could see the puffs (of bullets) hitting the building of Federico’s — firing going back and forth — almost 30 or 40 shots. … It was sporadic at first, continuous, then it stopped and then it kept going a little bit.”
Griego said it appeared officers were using two of their vehicles for cover as they fired from the Dutch Bros Coffee and there was gunfire coming back from the Federico’s parking lot.
The link to the quoted source material is here:
APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA REACTS BY BLAMING CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
During news briefings, APD Chief Harold Medina had this to say:
“Officers who were injured, their families have been notified and they have family members with them. … We want to assure all of the other families of officers who are on scene and haven’t been able to reach out their families, assure them that the officer who were injured, their families have been contacted. … This has been a challenging day but we appreciate the support, especially from our partners in law enforcement. … At the same time, it is incredibly frustrating that over the course of the past few weeks we have had four incidents in the metro area where law enforcement has been fired upon.”
Since July 5, according to authorities and news sources, there have been at least 3 separate incidents involving law enforcement and gun violence. Those incidents include:
1. FBI agents killed a man who shot an agent, hitting his bulletproof vest.
2. An APD officer was struck by glass shards after his windshield was hit by gunfire that left another person dead.
3. APD officers shot and injured a man who fired at them from a bait car.
During the press briefing at UNMH on the medical status of the officers being treated, APD Chief Harold Medina took the opportunity to criticized and lay blame on what happened to the 4 police officers on the criminal justice system. He stated that the community must come together and find ways to curb the gun violence and stop the “revolving door” that releases violent felons. He said that not all people can be saved and stated:
“People need to want to get help, but some people need to stay in jail. … And that is something we can’t be afraid of saying. It needs to be said. Our courts need to hear it. Our prosecutors need to hear it, and our community needs to voice their frustration and ensure that we start making the changes to keep bad people in jail.”
Source of quoted source material:
MAYOR TIM KELLER REACTS
On August 18 at 10:49 Mayor Tim Keller posted on his TWITTER acount:
“… officers are receiving emergency care after being shot in the line of duty this morning. This is a horrific act of violence and Liz and I join our community in praying for the officers, their families, and the team working to find the remaining suspect.”
Mayor Tim Keller issued the following statement:
“Our officers put their lives on the line every single day to protect our community. Despite these risks they take on when they’re sworn in, they step up anyway. It’s a profound act of service. When they are injured or worse in the line of duty, that pain ripples through our entire community.
Police families should never have to receive the calls they’re getting today. We’re asking our entire community to have their backs and the backs of every officer who worked to find the suspects and bring them to justice after this senseless act of violence. Liz and I join families around New Mexico in praying for the safety and recovery of the injured officers and for their families.”
During a news conference outside University of New Mexico Hospital, where the officers and suspect were being treated, Mayor Tim Keller called the incident an “incredible tragedy” that “ripples through our entire community” and had this to say:
“The entire Central New Mexico area is certainly, right now, either in a state of shock, state of grieving or, frankly, a state of fear. Our community is in this together, no matter what the causes, no matter what the problems, no matter what the answers are.”
POLICE UNION REACTS
Shaun Willoughby, the president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association said the shootings hit very close to home and he had this to say:
“These are friends of mine. … I know both of the officers that are either in surgery or hopefully getting out of surgery that are fighting for their lives right now. It just turns into raw, unadulterated anger because we have known this was going to happen. We’ve been telling this community that this was going to happen. … I believe that the violent crime and the uptick of violent crime is directly related to this police department being de-policed and having policies where they are not able to do their job. … We have de-policed the city of Albuquerque to the extent where officers carry around a little card with a list of misdemeanors that they can’t even arrest people on.”
GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM REACTS
Governor Michell Lujan Grisham posted on her FACEBOOK page:
“I am deeply, deeply troubled by the shooting of four Albuquerque Police Department officers in the line of duty this morning. All across the state, law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line every single day for New Mexicans. My thoughts are with those injured today and their families – please join me in praying for speedy and complete recoveries as we await additional details.”
Lujan Grisham’s Spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett later issued a statement and said the administration is keenly aware of the public safety issues facing Albuquerque. She noted that 35 additional New Mexico State police began working in the City on August 17 with the APD. Sacket said:
“The governor has committed to substantial public safety investments, including an effort to fund and support 1,000 new police officers statewide over the next decade, in the coming legislative session. … the Governor looks forward to Republican support of initiatives aimed at helping local jurisdictions combat violent crime and keeping repeat violent offenders locked up.”
Dr. Steven McLaughlin, the chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and who has been with UNMH for 20 years spoke at the briefing on the status of the injured police officers. Dr. McLaughlin took the opportunity to discuss gun violence and said has noted that gun violence getting worse in the city as well as across the country. Dr. McLaughlin had this to say:
“If you look at the numbers in the United States about 40,000 people a year die from gun violence. … Guns are also responsible for over half of the suicide deaths in the United States, which is something we don’t always think about. … To highlight this, as I was walking over here about a half hour ago my pager went off and we have another gunshot wound victim coming into the emergency department who is there right now. … This is something that continues to be a tragedy that we see every single day in the work that we do.”
No doubt thinking about the killing of 13-year-old, eighth grader Bennie Hargrove being shot and killed at Washington Middle school by another student, Dr. McLaughlin said:
“If you own a gun please be sure to lock it up so it doesn’t fall into the hands of children or someone else. … We all need to do our part to make sure we’re keeping our community safe.”
The Youtube link to News Conference on the City and UNMH updates on the status of four officers injured in robbery, shooting is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The shooting of 4 APD police officers in the line of duty is the single largest such incident involving APD police in its history. The shooting of the 4 police officers occurred the very day after the August 18, 2005 anniversary of when APD Officers Michael King and Richard Smith were shot and killed while attempting to take John Hyde into custody for a mental health evaluation. Earlier in the day, Hyde, unbeknownst to the officers, went on a murdering rampage and killed Ben Lopez, Garrett Iverson and David Fisher at two separate locations with no apparent motivation. Both King and Smith were each 22 year veterans with APD, had retired but returned to work. Hyde was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was later found incompetent and after 16 years has yet to stand trial and is still in a mental institution.
Just as tragic as the shooting of the 4 police officers is the record number of murders hitting a historical high of 83 and counting in one year. It was just 6 days ago that the city was shocked by the killing of 13-year-old, eighth grader Bennie Hargrove being shot and killed at Washington Middle school by another student as well as the city breaking the all-time homicide rate with 81 murders.
APD HAROLD MEDINA
It is painfully obvious that APD Chief Harold Medina’s statements blaming the New Mexico criminal justice system and the courts and the “revolving door” for what happened was inappropriate. Medina did not know at the time he made his remarks that James Ramirez, the defendant charged with the shooting, was not from here, he has no criminal history in New Mexico, but he is a convicted felon in California. Medina offered no information on Ramirez, if he is wanted or suspected of other crimes in Albuquerque or if he was out on bond or if he did time in California or if a fugitive complaint was outstanding.
In other words, Medina spoke before Ramirez was identified nor his involvement of what happened but he still laid blame on the courts. Medina’s “blame game” is likely the result of Medina being distraught and emotional over what happened to police officers under his command, and his friendships with Officers Smith and King, but that still is no excuse for his “blame game” on the courts.
MAYOR TIM KELLER
Not at all surprising is that Mayor Tim Keller was front and center at all the press briefings on the shootings, taking the lead, talking first and introducing the speakers and expressing his condolences on what happened and sympathy to the families of the officers. His presence was definitely mandated to show leadership and a reflection that he supported APD.
One shortcoming is that Mayor Tim Keller dominated the briefings and he actually gave the first “critical incident report” and tried to brief the media on information that needed to come from APD and the attending physicians, those who had actual knowledge as to what happened. Conspicuously absent at the “critical incident” press briefing held by Keller at the location of the incident was Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales who is running against Keller for Mayor. Keller ostensibly invited District Attorney Raul Torrez, the FBI and the head of the New Mexico state police to the briefing in that they attended and were offered an opportunity to speak. Keller introduced District Attorney Raul Torrez and allowed him to speak at the critical incident briefing with Torres asking the public for help and for the public to come forward if they had any information.
The Youtube link to Keller’s “critical incident report” news conference on the 4 officers shot is here:
The Youtube link to News Conference on the City and UNMH updates on the status of four officers injured in robbery, shooting is here:
APD Chief Harold Medina went out of his way during the first press briefing to note the authorities from the Rio Rancho Police were the first to offer help and that the FBI, NM State Police and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office were called in to assist. Medina made no mention that the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) for its part was dealing with a fatal crash on I-40 in the east mountains involving a person of interest in the case. BCSO said the person was fleeing from police when the crash happened.
It was in 2019, that Mayor Tim Keller reacting to the spiking violent crime rates, announced 4 programs in 9 months to deal with and bring down the city’s high violent crime rates . Those APD programs are:
The Shield Unit
Declaring Violent Crime “public health” issue,
The Metro 15 Operation and
The “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP Program).
It was on April 8, 2019, Mayor Keller and APD announced efforts that will deal with “violent crime” in the context of it being a “public health issue”. The program was intended to deal with crimes involving guns in an effort to bring down violent crime in Albuquerque. Mayor Keller and APD argue that gun violence is a “public health issue” because gun violence incidents have lasting adverse effects on children and others in the community that leads to further problems.
It was on August 18, 2020 that Mayor Tim Keller introduced his Violence Intervention team and said in part:
“This isn’t about Power Point slides or interesting analysis. … This is about trying to get these people not to shoot each other. …This is about understanding who they are and why they are engaged in violent crime. … And so, this actually in some ways, in that respect, this is the opposite of data. This is action. This is actually doing something with people. This is not just running reports and I think that’s a marked difference with what the city has done in the past.”
Based upon what has happened in the last week as well as the fact that the city has broken another record in homicides, Mayor Keller’s program can only be considered a failure.
A link to a related blog article is here:
POLICE UNION PRESIDENT RECKLESS REACTION AND FALSE CLAIMS
Police union president Shaun Willoughby was reckless when he essentially said that the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and the mandated police reforms are the cause of what happened to the 4 APD police officers especially when he said :
“… we have known this was going to happen. We’ve been telling this community that this was going to happen. … I believe that the violent crime and the uptick of violent crime is directly related to this police department being de-policed and having policies where they are not able to do their job. … We have de-policed the city of Albuquerque to the extent where officers carry around a little card with a list of misdemeanors that they can’t even arrest people on.”
From all appearances, the 4 injured officers were indeed doing their jobs and followed constitutional policing practices using deadly force to defend themselves and to take suspects into custody. From the news reports, the 4 officers lapel cameras were on and what happened was recorded. Mandatory use of lapel cameras are just one of the CASA mandates.
Use of the term “de-police” by Willoughby’s was no mistake. It is an effort create fear and anger amongst the community that the city has become part of the “defund the police” movement, which is blatantly false given that APD has the biggest budget of all city departments with an approved budget of $222 million. The police unions own attorneys have also said in open court at least two times that the federal reform mandates have not contributed to the city’s violent crime, yet Willoughby repeatedly promotes his big lies.
Under the CASA, there was a complete rewrite of APD’s use of force and use of deadly force policies. Police union president Shaun Willoughby was at the bargaining table when the policies were written. All of APD sworn officers have been trained on the constitutional policing practices.
ALL TALK AND NO RESULTS
What is truly depressing is that we continue to look to Mayor Tim Keller, the Albuquerque City Council and the appointed APD Chief Harold Medina and his Deputies for answers and solutions to what is happening as violent crime spikes and people are killed. What we get are unkept promises that something will ne done and we hear and see nothing as they react until another tragedy happens. What the city residents get are press conferences, a cycle of shock and empathy and hear condolences and concerns for the victims by our city officials.
We hear sound bites that we “are all in this together”, and we are “One Albuquerque” strong coupled with complaints of a “broken criminal justice system”, complaints of lack of resources and finger pointing that what is happening is a national trend. If this sounds at all too familiar, it’s because it has now become the norm in Albuquerque. The public also hears the same damn thing every 3 to 6 months on a national level when a mass shooting is reported and congress does nothing.
SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION NEEDED
On January 18, 2022, the thirty-day legislative session, also known as a short session, is scheduled to begin. 30 days session are supposed to be limited to budget and tax legislation, proposed constitutional amendments and previously vetoed bills. In the aftermath of the shootings of the 4 police officers and 13 year old New Mexico State legislature leadership are already calling for passage of crime bills and gun control legislation
It would be a major mistake for the New Mexico Legislature to even attempt to tackle enactment of crime legislation, even though it is desperately needed at this time, in a 30 day session. What Governor Michell Lujan should announce immediately is that she will convene a Special Legislative Session to follow the 30 days session to deal exclusively with crime and responsible gun control legislation.
The New Mexico Legislature should consider the following consider the following in the Special Legislature session:
1. Enact legislation making it a crime to fail to secure a firearm. Gun owners would have to keep their firearms in a locked container or otherwise make them inaccessible to anyone but the owner or other authorized users.
2. Review additional bail bond reforms and statutorily empower judges with more authority and more discretion to hold and jail those accused of violent crimes pending trial who have prior violent crime convictions.
4. Significantly increase the penalties for all violent crimes with mandatory sentencing by the courts.
5. Consider enacting legislation for the creation of a regional law enforcement agency for Class A Counties with populations of 500,000 or more and abolishing the Albuquerque Police Department and the Office of Bernalillo County Sheriff and consolidating both agencies into one agency with a civilian governing board along the lines of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority. A link to related blog article on this subject is here:
6. Enact legislation that either bans “citizen militias” entirely or regulate all citizens militias. Citizen militias need to be define along similar lines of how “gangs” are defined under federal criminal law or state law. The link to a related blog article is here:
7. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.
8. Requiring in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.
9. Enact a gun violence restraining order and extreme risk protection process to temporarily prohibit an individual deemed by a judge to pose a danger to self or others, from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law local law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.
10. Restrict and penalize firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person, including dating partners, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
11. Mandate and fund public school systems and higher education institutions to “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, security measures, including metal detectors at single entrances designated and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.
12. Repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.
Without reasonable and responsible gun control legislation, and aggressive law enforcement and prosecution of violent criminals, New Mexico and Albuquerque will continue have spiking violent crime rates, our schools will no longer be safe, and what the city has seen in the last week with the shooting of 4 police officers and the killing of a 13 year old will be the new normal.
On August 20, for the the second day in a row, Albuquerque had an officer-involved shooting. According to reports, one person is hospitalized after an officer-involved shooting in the area of Broadway and Anderson Avenue and Broadway Blvd. in southeast Albuquerque Friday afternoon.
APD authorities said officers were trying to take the suspect in on a parole violation because he is believed to be involved in an Albuquerque homicide that occurred last month. When police approached him, he reportedly tried to elude officers and started ramming his vehicle into police cruisers. The suspect then got out of the car holding a rifle. The suspect then tried to carjack a nearby driver by pointing a rifle at the driver. The driver said at that point they heard gunshots and the suspect dropped to the ground. The suspect was transported to the hospital and no officers were injured. APD officers were responding to a patrol violation when they say the suspect A Multi-Agency Task Force is investigating.