ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — A Bernalillo family is calling on state and local leaders to do something about how police are tackling crime. The pleas come after their 74-year-old grandfather was left waiting for help for hours after being shot at in Albuquerque at Sam’s Club. News 13 spoke with the family about the harrowing situation.
“The guy shot [at] him, my dad says four or five times. All he heard is just like, bang bang bang, like, for a few times,” said Maria Bustillos, daughter of Onofre Bustillos, “he could’ve hit my dad or the passenger. Like it was pretty much like a hit like he was aiming to kill them.”
Around noon on December 29, Onofre Bustillos went to get his tires rotated at Sam’s Club on Eubank. It was just another afternoon errand, but it quickly became an emergency situation. “When he was going to pull out, a truck pulled up in front of him, blocked him in. A guy got out, and put a gun to his face basically,” stated Cainaan Salido, grandson of Onofre Bustillo.
The man began demanding money at gunpoint: “My abuelito didn’t know what he was saying; he speaks only Spanish. And so, he [was] basically saying like, ‘I don’t know,’ and the guy said what, dinero? Give me your dinero, basically,” Salido said, “He put it in his face, and my abuelito grabbed his arm, literally, put it in drive, and sped out. If it wasn’t for himself doing something to help himself, he would’ve got his truck stolen or maybe shot, who knows?”
In the aftermath, the truck was riddled with bullets and the window was shot out. The family said Bustillos drove back around and into the parking lot after the gunman drove off and called police. The family said they also began calling the police for help.
“I called the police two or three times from probably 30 minutes after it happened just saying, ‘when are you guys are going to show up? Are you guys coming?’ And they just pretty much said, they told me he’s not a priority, he’s not a priority call because he didn’t get hurt or he didn’t get robbed,” Bustillos says.
According to the report, police finally got to the scene four hours later. However, the family says it took longer. “It took five hours to get there. Which makes no sense because there’s a guy out here robbing people with a gun in a parking lot,” Salido says.
“It seems like nobody cares,” Bustillos said, “Like my dad doesn’t matter. He’s 74 years old. He matters. He matters to me, and right now, it could be a whole different story.”
Now, the family is calling on local and state leaders to do something so that police can respond more effectively.
“I want to see change. Our police officers are doing everything they can. It’s not the police officer’s fault that they can’t respond to an emergency, to something like this,” Bustillos said.
“It shouldn’t take five, six hours. I would get it if he got a couple dollars taken just by some guy robbing it from him. But, you know, it’s a gun. Could’ve been a murder. For sure, assault with a deadly weapon,” Salido said, “the response time doesn’t fit the crime.”
“I actually had to go to every website, and send a message to the new DA, the mayor, the chief, the senators, the House of Representatives, the governor. Still no response from anybody,” Bustillos said, “It seems like nobody cares.”
“We back the police, 100%. 110%. So, I need to see change from the mayor. Even though I’m not a citizen of this city, it’s affecting everybody,” Bustillos explained, “the governor needs to do something because it’s not just Albuquerque. It’s statewide.”
Albuquerque Police Department (APD) said the response time was unusually long that day because officers were tied up with a S.W.A.T. situation happening in Northeast Albuquerque at the same time, and this call was a lower priority because the offender was no longer present. APD explained they did have officers from other area commands to help in the Foothills area while the S.W.A.T. situation was active.
A representative of the area, Albuquerque City Councilor Renee Grout responded to News 13’s questions about this situation with a statement:
“I am very concerned about the amount of crime in District 9, and all over our City. Unfortunately, there was a perfect storm of events on December 29 with a SWAT situation in another part of the District that pulled resources from the rest of the Foothills Area Command. I spoke with Chief Medina about APD staffing levels last fall in the context of the Foothills Area Proactive Response Team’s work. To his and our Area Commander’s credit, that team was doubled in October and we can see from their arrest numbers in November and December that they are having an impact. However, APD is still severely under-staffed and we saw the effect of that on December 29. No one should wait hours for police to respond to a 911 call, period. I remain committed to supporting APD’s recruiting efforts and getting more officers hired and trained to make sure that every Area Command in this City is fully staffed.”Renee Grout, Albuquerque City Councilor District 9
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Police could not release the surveillance video from December 29 because it is part of an ongoing investigation. The shooter is described in the report as an African American male in a blue pickup truck with an unknown license plate. The shooter has not been identified.
Local Sam’s Club management declined to comment on the incident.