ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The owners of a prime downtown Albuquerque parking lot are facing a wrongful death lawsuit following a deadly shooting in the lot in August. Filed by the shooting victim’s family, the lawsuit claims the parking area at 2nd and Central is a “hot spot for violent crime” and that the lot owners have “made little to no effort to prevent” people from gathering there.
The lawsuit claims despite this being a hot spot for violence; the owners have ignored the problems. In an interview with KRQE, the family’s attorney, Levi Monagle, shared, “Security costs money. And sometimes, you know, you’ll see businesses make the decision not to spend the money on security and just cross the fingers and hope that nothing bad happens. That’s not enough. And that can have tragic consequences. If that was the case here, then that’s unacceptable.”
The deadly shooting at the center of the lawsuit happened nearly two months ago, on August 22, 2022. In a news conference last month, Albuquerque Police released a video of the crime, where they say 21-year-old Melina Jones was killed.
KRQE News 13 briefly spoke to one of the parking lot’s owners over the phone on Wednesday. The lot owner said he had yet to see the lawsuit, which was filed in Bernalillo County District Court on Tuesday. He declined to make any comments on the lawsuit at this time.
APD says Melina Jones was shot to death by a man who ran from the scene. Investigators have yet to arrest or even name a suspect in the case.
According to the lawsuit, the night Jones was shot to death, she and a group of friends went downtown to socialize, parking in the lot at 2nd and Central. The lawsuit claims Jones and a group of friends were socializing in the lot for about 30 minutes before a man began talking to them. The lawsuit states the man offended Jones and her friends, “referring to them by an offensive pejorative term.” Attorneys for Jones’ family then say a “heated confrontation ensued,” ending with the man shooting and killing Jones.
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The man who is identified as the shooter in the lawsuit has not been named as a suspect in Albuquerque Police’s investigation. KRQE News 13 is not identifying the man named in the lawsuit, as he has not been charged or named in the case.
The parking lot at 2nd and Central is one of two downtown lots that’s been on the radar of Albuquerque city officials in recent weeks over crime concerns. At a news conference celebrating the opening of APD’s downtown bureau on 4th and Central, Mayor Tim Keller named the two downtown parking lots along Central the “primary locations of crimes.”
“It makes sense, you spill out of the bars, everyone’s going to their cars, and there’s altercations,” Keller said in September. “We are looking at a wide range of activities, ranging from closing those lots, ranging from making their food courts, to sort of regulating when people can come in out, so all of that is in the brainstorming phase now, but I want to let you know that we’re going to focus on those.”
During the news conference, Keller further stated the city would “reach out to the owners” of the lots at 2nd and Central and 6th and Central. It’s unclear if the city has made any progress toward those efforts since October.
The Jones family’s lawsuit cites Keller’s publicly stated concerns about the parking lot while also making other safety allegations. Lawyers for the Jones family claim in the lawsuit that the parking lot owners “had no hired security at the parking lot” on the night Jones was killed. The filing also claims the owners “canceled a contract with a security providers several weeks before” Jones was shot to death.