ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time, we are hearing from one of the Albuquerque Police officers who was hit during a massive shootout in a Dutch Bros. parking lot. The officer is an experienced sergeant with decades on the force.
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Not even 27 years on patrol could’ve prepared Sergeant Sean Kenny for what August 19 would bring. The day started with an armed robbery off Central and Juan Tabo. Kenny was just a few blocks away when he heard one of his guys with the Foothills Patrol Unit Officer Mario Verbeck call in saying he and Officer James Eichel were chasing the suspects down an alley.
With gunfire still ringing over the radio and throughout a busy Dutch Bros. Coffee parking lot, Kenny arrived on the scene and quickly made a crucial decision. “I threw on my rifle plate carrier. It’s weighted to stop rifle fire… not just pistol fire,” Kenny said.
Kenny says the shoot lasted around two minutes. That timeline didn’t make sense to Kenny because suspects almost always run out of ammunition but say the accused shooter James Ramirez was prepared. “This guy absolutely planned… 100% he knew what he was doing; 100%. He had a ton of ammo. He had a ton of magazines and he was ready to go to war with somebody,” Kenny said.
Officers soon took an injured Ramirez into custody but no one walked away unscathed. Officer Harry Gunderson was hit by shrapnel, Officer Verbeck was shot in the neck and Officer Eichel in the arm and Sergeant Kenny in the chest.
“He starts feeling around and says I think you were hit. Sure enough, I got a little notebook I pull it out and sure enough, it’s got a hole in it. I’m like yeah… I was hit,” Kenny said.
Kenny’s bulletproof vest saved his life and while he is being praised by city leaders, Kenny didn’t shy away from his belief that the criminal justice system is broken and is putting everyone in danger. “Violent criminals who use a gun have no business on our streets, 100%. If they’re going to shoot at four officers in a stand-up gun battle that’s just about four minutes long between the two of us… what’re they going to do to everybody else? Things have to change. The system has to change,” Kenny said.
Kenny also said that it is crucial right now to recruit and retain Albuquerque Police officers if the city truly wants to turn crime around.