One person is dead after an explosion on Albuquerque’s westside. Police said they believe the man who died may have set the homemade device off causing panic among shoppers and people who work in the area.
“It appeared to be on or around the person,” Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier said. “It was something that had the capability of being detonated and it was a substantial explosion.”
At this time, investigators are still considering all other possibilities.
People nearby said you could hear the explosion and feel it shake walls. A majority of the businesses in the shopping center near Coors and Central ended up closing for the rest of the night.
Police say it all started around 1 p.m. when a large explosion went off behind the busy shopping center.
“We have one deceased on scene. We are still trying to figure out what happened. We have a large perimeter set up. This area is closed down for the time being for public safety,” Officer Simon Drobik said.
APD’s bomb squad responded, along with Albuquerque Fire Rescue, the FBI and the ATF.
Chief Geier said officers were in the area responding to a separate call when the explosion happened. According to the chief, they began evacuating the businesses, thinking it could have been a gas leak.
“That was ruled out pretty quickly,” he said. “There were people in the area that witnessed the explosion.”
According to Mayor Tim Keller, there were also two Albuquerque firefighters shopping inside Smith’s.
“They went out through the back with some of the managers of the Smith’s. At that time that’s when they noticed an individual was deceased,” Lt. Tom Ruiz said.
The chief said no one else was behind the businesses when the explosion went off.
“We don’t have any reason to believe there was anyone else involved,” Chief Geier said. “There’s no perceived threat to no one else or no connection to any terrorist activity.”
Now, investigators said they’re working to find out a motive.
“Tonight, we’ll be looking at the investigative aspect regarding the individual himself and how this all came to fruition,” Chief Geier said.
At this time, police are not releasing any information about the person who died.
The FBI and ATF were called in to help investigate and determine what the explosive device was made from.