NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Will the man facing charges for a shooting at a Juan de Oñate statue protest go to trial? That’s a decision a Rio Arriba County District Court Judge faced Friday. Ryan Martinez is accused of shooting one protestor and pointing a gun at another outside of the Rio Arriba County Complex two weeks ago, then taking off from the scene.
Cell phone video taken at the Oñate statue protest on September 28th shows the moments before 23-year-old Ryan Martinez pulled his gun and shot Jacob Johns. Investigators say Martinez then drove off from the scene in a white Tesla. He was later pulled over by Pojoaque Tribal Police on his way south from Española towards Santa Fe.
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Before the shooting, protestors were gathered at the Rio Arriba County Complex to celebrate the postponement of the controversial Juan de Oñate statue being re-installed there. It had previously been taken down from its post in Alcalde in 2020 and had sat in storage ever since.
A group of counter-protestors in favor of the statue stood at the back of the crowd; Martinez can be seen among them in the video. Friday, attorneys argued in the courtroom over whether there was enough evidence to take this case to a jury. “We ask that the court find probable cause for both counts, attempted murder in the first degree and aggravated assault with the use of a deadly weapon,” said Emily Dewhurst, senior trial attorney with the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Martinez became tearful at several points in the courtroom Friday. His defense counsel argued the shooting wasn’t premeditated and he acted in self-defense. “The evidence is going to show that Mr. Martinez scrambled over this low wall to try to escape them, and fearing for his life because he was so outnumbered by all these men, he pulled his firearm that he possessed lawfully—he had a concealed carry permit—and he fired one shot at Mr. Johns in self-defense,” said Nicole Moss, defense attorney for Martinez.
Several witnesses were called by the state, including law enforcement and people who were near the shooting. In the end, the judge found there was probable cause for both counts against Martinez to proceed to trial. “To intentionally provoke them, while knowing full well that he was carrying a concealed firearm is sufficient to find probable cause for attempted murder in the first degree,” Judge Jason Lidyard said.
Judge Lidyard also ordered Martinez to be held in jail while he awaits trial. The state said Martinez had a loaded firearm on him and in his car, as well as a loaded gun magazine.