ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A homeless man is accused of firing shots at the ground toward two arroyo flood control workers who were mowing the lawn. No one was hurt, but the police union is now speaking out about the violence caught on lapel camera.
“Stop right there, go to your knees,” an Albuquerque Police officer is heard saying.
The homeless man, Raymond Owen, admitted to firing a gun near two arroyo flood control employees who were mowing near his homeless camp near the Bear Canyon Arroyo off Jefferson and I-25 back in December.
“[They were] warning shots. I felt I was in danger,” Owen told officers. “No one indicated to me that they were going to be running a huge machine that was throwing rocks all over the place while I was over there.”
“They were just doing their job and that’s the sad part about this whole thing,” Jerry Lovato with Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority said.
“There are a lot of our homeless population that have contacts with law enforcement in a negative manner,” Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shawn Willoughby said. “A lot of folks come from other communities with rap sheets.”
Owen is still behind bars. The state filed a motion for preventive detention because of his criminal history spanning thirty years across multiple states, including three felony convictions in Michigan for fleeing police in a stolen vehicle, drug charges and assault with a dangerous weapon.
“This is similar behavior that officers have to deal with on a regular basis,” Willoughby continued. “This population we have of homeless in Albuquerque is on the increase.”
A recent federal report showed that Albuquerque is seeing a spike in its homeless population, up to 3,200 now, partially from homeless people migrating from other states. Meanwhile, the AMAFCA said homeless camps are common at their work sites.
“We have to take a lot of time just to clear the area just to start our work,” Lovato continued.
In the past year, AMAFCA has revamped its security measures to help keep their 22 employees safer. That includes workers going out in the field in pairs and adding GPS to their company vehicles.
Owen is charged with aggravated assault and for being a felon with a gun. He will stay behind bars until his trial.