Correction: In a previous version of this story, Steven Ray Baca was incorrectly identified as Stephen Ray Baca. This has been updated.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department has identified the man arrested in connection to the shooting of a protester near Old Town on Monday, June 15. Video posted to Facebook shows protesters trying to tear down the statue of conquistador Juan de Oñate on the corner of Mountain and 19th Street.
Shortly after, APD says an armed militia calling themselves the New Mexico Civil Guards fired shots at protesters. One person was hit and is now fighting for their life in the hospital.
Once police arrived at the scene in armored vehicles, cell phone video sent in after the shooting shows members of the civil guard on the ground getting handcuffed. Witnesses at the scene tell KRQE News 13 dozens of individuals called APD for help before the shooting as tensions rose but police arrived after the protester was shot. Police say the individuals were taken into custody for questioning. Tear gas was thrown by authorities into the crowd to keep people away from the scene.
APD reports they have arrested 31-year-old Steven Ray Baca in connection to the shooting. Baca is being booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on a charge of aggravated battery. APD reports the shooting is an active investigation. It remains unclear if Baca was a part of the armed militia group.
“About 30 people call police asking for help even 30 minutes before this had even arised and no cops came onto scene. By the time we ran here, shots fired and a gentlemen fell down. She was in that part and helped him rescue and at that point, a whole swarm of — who are supporters — helped to resuscitate make sure that he was good. He was safe and well,” said one witness.
The gathering did start as a peaceful protest over the Don Juan de Oñate statue. At least one group created a petition saying it needed to be removed since it represents and continues a legacy of colonial violence.
Police say the one man that was shot and has been taken to the hospital. The man is listed in critical but stable condition. Officers secured the scene late Monday night.
The City of Albuquerque says it will remove the statue of conquistador Juan de Onate calling it an ‘urgent matter of public safety.’ APD says if vigilante groups were responsible they could be facing hate crime charges. It is unclear if anyone is charged as of Tuesday morning.
#BREAKING— Albuquerque Police Department (@ABQPOLICE) June 16, 2020
APD is investigating a shooting that just occurred at Mountain/Rio Grande. The shooting occurred during a protest event. One male subject was shot and has been transported. Officers are securing the scene. The public should avoid the area.
The incident at Tiguex Park has ended peacefully and APD’s Emergency Response Teams are leaving the Old Town area. The FBI is currently assisting APD violent crime investigators as they interview individuals who were involved in the shooting.— Albuquerque Police Department (@ABQPOLICE) June 16, 2020
Update – APD investigating shooting at protest pic.twitter.com/FxdGpBXohZ— Albuquerque Police Department (@ABQPOLICE) June 16, 2020