Albuquerque

Chaos erupts at a local skate park after a shooting

 

By Robert Browman And Elise Kaplan / Journal Staff Writers

A fight between two groups celebrating birthday parties at Los Altos Skate Park in Northeast Albuquerque exploded into gunfire Sunday night, leaving 17-year-old Sandia High School student Jaquise Lewis dead in the parking lot and six others shot and injured.

One person remains hospitalized in critical condition after what police say they suspect was a gang-related clash.

Richard Brandon, a longtime skater who was at one of the parties, said his friends confronted a man in the other group, claiming someone had stolen a skateboard. Not long after, he said, punches and shots started flying from both sides.

Brandon said he saw his friend whose birthday it was get hit by a bullet and go down.

“He was bleeding out of his stomach,” he said. “The only thing I could think of is it’s like fight or flight.”

Seven people were struck by bullets, including Lewis, who died at the scene. Several cars in the parking lot also were struck by bullets.

Lewis had recently returned to Albuquerque to live with his grandparents after living with his mother in Las Vegas, Nev. He had previously attended Highland and Manzano high schools.

“He loved sports, he loved electronics and computers. He was very high skilled with electronics,” said his mother, Munah Green. “He could get a computer taken apart and put it back together.”

Green jumped in her car and drove to Albuquerque as soon as she heard the news.

“It’s just so senseless and so pointless,” she said. “I will see to it that they be brought to justice.”

Officer Tanner Tixier, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department, said officers were called to the skate park just before 10 p.m. Sunday. They arrived to find a large crowd, with Lewis dead on the sidewalk and others injured. Three people were rushed to a local hospital.

Three others injured by the gunfire walked into area hospitals on their own, he said.

Crowd chaos

The shooting and its aftermath drew a large crowd, prompting officers to concentrate on crowd control, police spokesman Fred Duran said.

He described the park area as a “large and complex crime scene.”

Two vehicles were towed from the scene so police can search them, Tixier said,

He said the police don’t have any suspects to identify at this time and said police aren’t sure if race played a part in the shooting. Lewis is black and the group he was with was mostly African-American.

“The early indication is it was somehow gang-related. We’re still trying to make sure that was the case,” Tixier said.

Cody Langdon, a longtime regular at the park, said the skateboarders he knows are not involved in gangs.

“Nobody here is part of any gang. And if they are, they are not bringing that into the park,” he said.

Tixier said he doesn’t believe the park has security cameras

“I know there’s a highway camera at I-40 and Eubank, but it was pointed in the wrong direction,” he said.

Langdon said the park is usually peaceful.

Tixier agrees. “I just pulled the calls for service there for the past three years and it didn’t seem like an overwhelming number,” he said.

When fights do break out, Langdon said they are solved without guns.

“If any of us has a problem with each other, we’ll just go into the parking lot and fight,” he said. “I don’t know why people have to shoot each other.”

Journal staff writers Nicole Perez and Jon Swedien contributed to this report.

Snow storm Coverage 2015

These are some of the images taken across two evenings and one morning after what we consider to be a snow storm.  For Albuquerque it was a big deal and I took advantage of hitting the streets with two Nikon FX cameras: D750 and D600 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens and a 70-200mm f/2.8.  There is something special of seeing our desert environment with a fresh blanket of snow. The moment that brought it all in perspective for me was seeing a coyote galloping along a snow-packed field at the local Nature Center.  It was more beautiful when it stopped to take a look at me with curiosity. Nature is amazing. Enjoy.

Remembering Nancy Meyers

Volunteers and the homeless come together to remember Nancy Meyers, a homeless woman who was run over while she slept on the sidewalk near a shelter. 

investigators at the scene where a homeless woman was rundown by an unidentified driver while she slept.

Protesters 13 arrested in City Hall sit-in

Protester Nora Anaya is taken to the downtown detention center after being arrested. Anaya's nephew was killed several years ago by APD. She chained herself to a structure near the mayor's office. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

An Albuquerque Police officer runs up to the Mayor's office to arrest protesters.

By Dan McKay and Rosalie Rayburn / Journal Staff Writers 

 

One woman chained herself to an art case.

Others strung up crime-scene tape and shouted that the police chief should be fired.

It all happened inside the mayor’s suite on the top floor of City Hall on Monday, triggering the cancellation of the City Council meeting scheduled to start two hours later, which was to include discussion on a variety of bills centered on the Albuquerque Police Department.

Mayor Richard Berry was out of town, but his top administrator, Rob Perry, watched and later confronted protesters as they continued their sit-in.

The demonstration ended with the arrests of 13 people charged with criminal trespassing, unlawful assembly and interfering with a public official or staff. One person, University of New Mexico assistant professor David Correia, was charged with a felony for allegedly pushing a member of the mayor’s security detail.

Police quickly cut the chains that protester Nora Tachias Anaya had looped around a display case.

“All we asked is to talk to the mayor,” she said just before officers cuffed her with plastic ties.

The confrontation came four days after an autopsy report revealed police had shot a homeless man in the back in March. The shooting of James Boyd, who struggled with mental illness, triggered protests throughout the spring after police released video of officers firing at Boyd after he appeared to have agreed to surrender.

“We want answers,” Mary Jobe, whose fiance was also fatally shot by police, said in an interview. “We’re tired of the mayor hiding from us.”

The sit-in lasted about 90 minutes and triggered a lockdown of City Hall.

City Council President Ken Sanchez issued a statement saying the council meeting was canceled. He said that because City Hall had been locked down, holding a meeting would violate state rules that guarantee people can watch public meetings. He said he also had safety concerns.

Gilbert Montaño, the mayor’s chief of staff, said he expected councilors to meet later this week or next to take up Monday’s agenda, which included a tax increase for mental health and homeless services and legislation to overhaul civilian oversight of APD.

Members of the Coalition Against Police Brutality and the Answer Coalition, among other groups, who were gathered outside at the entrance to City Hall blasted the mayor for not meeting with them.

“We need answers and the police chief and the mayor does not give them to us – they hide, they hire people to do their talking for them. Where was the mayor for eight days after James Boyd was shot? He couldn’t face anybody because he’s a coward,” said Mike Gomez, father of Alan Gomez, who was fatally shot by police.

Police shot Boyd during a standoff in the Sandia foothills on March 16. Berry was out of town for a few days, and his first publicly reported statement on the incident was on March 24.

It was the third disruption at City Hall in a month. In early May, protesters tried to serve a “people’s arrest warrant” on Police Chief Gorden Eden during a City Council meeting, and they took over the council chambers to hold their own meeting as the chief and city councilors left.

Protesters later held a silent demonstration during a council meeting. Several signed up to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting, then stood quietly when it was their turn to address the council. Security escorted them out.

Protesters and the mayoral administration offered different explanations for how Monday’s protest started.

Montaño said Correia pushed his way through the interior door as other people were going in. Correia “rammed through the door and pushed one of our officers,” Montaño said.

The mayor’s suite, on the 11th floor, features a public lobby, with two aides behind a counter to greet visitors. A glass door prevents people from entering the mayor’s suite of offices without permission. Usually, the aides will press a button to unlock the door when people arrive.

Inside the mayor’s suite is a complex of individual offices and conference rooms. The protesters held their sit-in amid a reception area just outside the mayor’s individual office, where he has his own desk and conference table.

Barbara Grothus, one of the people arrested, said protesters didn’t have to force their way into the mayor’s suite. “There was no lock,” she said. “We just opened the door and walked in.”

Montaño said Correia was charged with battery on a police officer. Correia has led other demonstrations at City Hall over the past month. He said some of the tactics are modeled on historic demonstrations by land-grant and Chicano activists. The university has issued statements saying Correia does not represent UNM.

Monday’s sit-in led to an odd scene. Perry, the mayor’s chief administrative officer; Montaño; and a few police officers watched as protesters read from letters they’d intended to deliver in person to Berry. At one point, protesters sat quietly on the floor and read from a U.S. Department of Justice report that found APD had a pattern or practice of violating people’s civil rights.

The door to Berry’s individual office was closed, and a security guard stood watch.

Perry engaged protesters and appeared to use his cellphone to film them. “Did you force your way through that door?” he asked at one point.

Later, he urged them to leave peacefully. “You’ve made your point,” he said. “Why don’t you take off?”

Protesters responded that they weren’t leaving until the mayor came out to talk to them.

Montaño, at one point, said Berry wasn’t present, though he didn’t mention that the mayor was out of town. It wasn’t clear whether the protesters heard Montaño or simply didn’t trust him. Several kept asking if the mayor was shut in his office or if he’d escaped out a back door.

A police van that took arrested protesters from City Hall to the Public Safety building was met with a small crowd shouting messages such as “no justice, no peace” and “killer cops.” A cordon of police made a barrier between them and the van as the arrestees were led in.

Afterward, Montaño said the mayor welcomed civil, productive comment from the community. Berry was in New York on Monday for a conference, he said. Montaño said the arrests came only after protesters made it clear they weren’t leaving unless forced.

 

 

 

 

 

Protest over Albuquerque Police Shooting

This was the scene the morning after James Boyd, a homeless man, was shot by police in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.  This event caused outrage in the community and eventually led to a huge protest this past Sunday, two weeks after the shooting. 

Albuquerque Police begin to throw tear gas at protesters on Central Avenue near the University of New Mexico.

Albuquerque riot police force protesters off the streets on Central Avenue.