ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The names of the officers involved in Thursday’s officer-involved shooting which sent one suspect and four officers to the hospital were released on Friday. A criminal complaint states a man called police around 8:30 a.m. and reported that he had been robbed at gunpoint and had located the two men who robbed him.
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The man says he was walking on Western Skies when two men approached him and asked if he wanted to buy drugs. The man said he declined their offer and one of the men pulled out a handgun and “demanded everything he had.” The man says they took his wallet, shoes, backpack, gold necklace, and PlayStation game console that was in his backpack.
He also told police a friend drove him around the area while he was looking for the robbers. That’s when they saw the men around Juan Tabo Blvd. and Copper Ave.
The man then met with Officers Mario Verbeck and James Eichel and identified the suspects as two men walking near Summer Ave. and Juan Tabo Blvd. The complaint states the officers followed the two male offenders into an alleyway between Juan Tabo and Muriel St. That’s when the two male suspects gave chase and officers Verbeck and Eichel followed.
The larger of the two suspects, identified Friday as 27-year-old James Ramirez, then shot a gun and struck both officers. Ofc. Verbeck was struck on his neck and upper left arm and Ofc. Eichel was struck on his left forearm. The officers shot back at Ramirez.
The complaint states Sergeant Sean Kenny and Officer Harry Gunderson arrived on scene near the Dutch Bros. coffee shop. Ramirez shot at Ofc. Gunderson and Sgt. Kenny and the police returned fire. Sgt. Kenny was struck in the chest but was wearing a bulletproof vest and Ofc. Gunderson was struck in his face with glass and shrapnel as he took cover behind his police car.
Ramirez was shot and tended to by police until rescue crews arrived and transported Ramirez to the University of New Mexico Hospital. He is currently in stable condition at UNMH. Ramirez was identified as being a convicted felon from California.
The other suspect – identified in the complaint as a smaller, skinny Hispanic male – was last seen running southbound through the alley and has yet to be identified. This suspect was not observed by officers to be armed or seen shooting at police.
All of the officers involved were transported to UNMH. Ofc. Verbeck was critically injured and remains in critical condition. He has been with APD since 2004. Ofc. Eichel is in stable condition and has been with APD since 2009. Sgt. Kenny has been treated and released. He’s been with the department since 1999. Ofc. Gunderson is in stable condition and has been with APD since 2004 as well.
APD says they’re expecting federal charges to be filed in the case.