A deputy-involved shooting near Frost and Roberts roads left the suspect in the hospital and four deputies and a sergeant in the department on administrative leave.
That’s according to Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, who held a press conference Monday in response to the incident.
Monday afternoon, deputies responded to a call from a man “who was the grandfather of the residence” who said “there was somebody armed with a shotgun in his home, threatening another family member in the residence,” Gonzales said, adding that the investigation so far has confirmed that “there was a shotgun on the scene,” after deputies “identified one of those persons with a shotgun.”
Medical personnel were on standby during the incident, he said, and the suspect, who has not yet been named by the department, was immediately transported to the hospital with “non-life-threatening injuries.”
The victims in the case have not been named by law enforcement either, pending completion of interviews of those deputies who were involved, Gonzales said. “We don’t ever want to taint an investigation by giving information on a suspect or what may have occurred because we don’t want [suspects] to alter their statements.”
Gonzales said it’s unclear at this time how many shots were fired, and who fired those shots.
The suspect could face charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a household member, based on the preliminary investigation, the sheriff said. The suspect in the case has a criminal history, he said, adding that there have been other recent calls for domestic violence or domestic disturbances at the same residence.
Gonzales said this is the fifth shooting in about a month, and said his deputies are concerned. “We’re all concerned. … They’re trying to figure out what’s going on in this town, what’s prompting people to act up in these behaviors we haven’t seen … for as long as I’ve been in law enforcement. This sudden spike, we’re hoping it’s something out of the ordinary—hopefully this isn’t a norm.”
Gonzales said he would approach the county commission at its Tuesday meeting to ask for 60 additional deputies. That would cost the county about $9 million in start-up costs, which include training and equipment for new officers. “Maybe not all at one time, maybe phases of 20 at a time,” he said.
The public doesn’t feel safe, and Gonzales said additional deputies will help provide the service people expect.
“We constantly are going out to talk to our deputies in these briefings, telling them what they need to do to stay safe,” Gonzales said. “Team policing, intelligence-based policing. Having the community be our eyes and ears and having them be part of the communication we need.”
Asked about his “opposition to on-body cameras,” the sheriff said there is no scientific research that shows they work. He suggested that body-worn cameras would be better placed on criminals. “Maybe they should be used to be placed on the people committing these crimes. To me it’s like let’s hold people accountable that are wielding guns and going out committing crimes that the public is concerned about, and not focus on law enforcement.”
Gonzales said body cameras “were introduced to law enforcement without a lot of thought.”
He also said his department doesn’t need body cameras. “I have yet to be summoned by a citizen who’s come to my office with that concern. Those are community trust issues. There are no trust issues with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office and their deputies. So to me, there’s no reason to have body-worn cameras at this point or in the immediate future.”
What will make a difference, the sheriff said, is staffing. “That would have an immediate impact on the type of service we give.”
The sheriff also spoke about the trauma experienced by deputies involved in a shooting. “There are some other unspoken things they go through. There’s a lot of criticism, things they see on the media, the way they’re perceived. A lot of stress goes along with that shooting. It’s a lot of burden that they carry.”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.