ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office says an 18-year old armed with an “AR-15 style pistol” and carrying a backpack full of guns was shot and killed by a deputy last month, following a hit and run crash in the North Valley. The department released new details about the shooting during a news conference Tuesday, including dispatch recordings and body camera video.
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BCSO says a ten-year deputy with the department fired a single shot in the incident, killing the suspect, Elijah Riche, 18. The incident unfolded after BCSO says Riche crashed a red SUV into other cars at the intersection of Edith and Montaño around 2 p.m. on November 26, 2021, the day after Thanksgiving.
BCSO says deputies were nearby responding to an unrelated indecent exposure call when they saw Riche’s car crash at that intersection. Moments later, one of two nearby deputies who saw the crash followed Riche’s SUV as it went south down Edith Boulevard, toward Nikanda Road.
As the deputy followed Riche’s SUV, surveillance video shows Riche’s SUV crashed again. The second crash only involved Riche’s vehicle slamming into a chain-link fence of a trailer business at the corner of Edith and Nikanda, about 1,400 ft. to the south of the Montaño intersection. BCSO says surveillance video shows as the first responding deputy tried to stop Riche, the suspect ran from his vehicle, then turned back to grab items from the vehicle, then ran again.
“(The deputy) attempts to engage with the suspect, turns on his emergency equipment, he’s giving verbal commands,” said Capt. Nickolas Huffmyer of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, describing surveillance video and the events leading up to the shooting. “The suspect gets out of the vehicle, he runs about ten-feet down from the vehicle, he stops, turns back around and arms himself with weapons from the vehicle and then starts running again.”
BCSO body camera video shows Riche running east on Nikanda, a dead-end road. As Riche ran, a second deputy arrived on the scene in his SUV, following Riche to the east end of Nikanda Road. BCSO played body camera video Tuesday showing Riche turning around and running west on Nikanda Road, back toward the intersection of Montaño.
“(Riche) then turns around, having reached a fence, feels like he can’t go any farther, turns around and starts running back in the direction of the initial responding deputy while armed with the gun, running directly towards those deputies” Capt. Huffmyer said. “The deputy exits his patrol car, gives his commands, the suspect refuses to comply and it’s at that point the shooting takes place.”
Body camera video shows Riche at one point raised a gun in the air as he walked away from the deputy who shot him moments later. Riche was walking towards other deputies at the west end of Nikanda Road when he was shot.
A 10-year deputy with BCSO, Deputy Ronald Perez fired a single shot at Riche, who fell to the ground. BCSO said Tuesday Riche didn’t fire the gun, to their knowledge.
When asked why the deputy may have shot Riche, BCSO Capt. Huffmyer said he couldn’t speak for the deputy. Huffmyer then provided his own analysis, stating “I mean, I think it’s pretty clear, (the deputy) thought that his fellow deputies were in danger,” said Capt. Huffmyer.
It’s unclear where Riche was shot. The suspect was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Video shows Riche shouting at deputies as he lay on the ground, wounded. BCSO says paramedics arrived on scene at 2:08 p.m., approximately six-minutes after deputies called out “shots fired” over the radio.
BCSO says Riche was armed with a .223 AR-15 pistol in his hand when he was shot. In a backpack Riche was carrying, BCSO says investigators found a 10mm pistol, a .40 caliber pistol, and a 9 mm AR-style pistol. Inside of the car Riche crashed, investigators found a 12 gauge shotgun.
BCSO said Riche had no criminal history as an adult but has a juvenile record. The department was unable to provide details on Riche’s juvenile record Tuesday. While emphasizing the case is under investigation, BCSO was scant on details about why Riche fled or why he had numerous firearms.
“Establishing motive in these things is difficult, especially (since) he’s not able to be interviewed,” Capt. Huffmyer said. “We do know he might have been involved in some kind of a domestic incident earlier that day, but as to what role that played in his actions you saw on screen, I can’t say.”
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office will eventually make a determination as to if the shooting was justified. BCSO says the shooting remains under the investigation of the Multi-Agency Task Force, a collaborative team that investigates officer and deputy shooting cases.
(WARNING: Video contained in news conference shows graphic content)