ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – A manhunt in northern New Mexico has ended with the arrest of a suspect connected to multiple armed robberies and the fatal shooting of a restaurant employee in Española. In an update Wednesday evening, Española Police said Ricky Martinez, 31, was arrested.

Martinez is a suspect in as many as nine armed robberies across Española, Santa Fe and Taos, and a fatal shooting at a Blake’s Lotaburger Tuesday night. According to a Facebook post from the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office, Martinez was captured by local and federal authorities, and was “hiding out in Santa Fe County.”

Ricky Martinez, 31, was arrested by local and federal law enforcement Tuesday night. (Click photo for larger version)

Martinez was the subject of a CrimeStoppers bulletin sent out around 8:16 p.m. Tuesday, roughly one hour before the fatal shooting is said to have occurred at the Blake’s restaurant at 206 Paseo de Oñate, next to the town’s Plaza. Española Police says that robbery took place around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

At some point during the robbery, police say Martinez shot the victim, a Blake’s Lotaburger employee. Friends have identified the victim as a man named Cypress Garcia.

“Tragically, last night, it resulted in the death of one of our community members,” Española Police Chief Mizel Garcia said of the shooting. “What we’re dealing with here is a violent individual, who, in these series of crimes, [has] escalated his behavior up to the point where he actually took the life, tragically, of somebody who was just at their job, trying to [work.]”

Friends describe the victim, Garcia, as a kind, friendly, amazing person who would “give you the shirt off of his back.” Garcia is said to have graduated from Española Valley High School in 2020. Friends also told KRQE News 13 that they are “in shock” and still “trying to process what happened. A GoFundMe page has been set up in Garcia’s name.

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Española Police believe Ricky Martinez is the suspect in seven armed robberies in the city. The two other robberies Martinez is thought to be involved in happened in Santa Fe and Taos. Police say Martinez had a federal warrant for his arrest. He was also recently released from prison.

“In each of the armed robberies, he’s brandished a weapon,” Chief Garcia said. “As the robberies continued, he fired gunshots at four of [the robberies].”

Chief Garcia told KRQE News 13 Tuesday that another person had been arrested in connection to at least one of the armed robberies. Garcia didn’t release the name of that suspect.

Criminal History

KRQE News 13 previously reported on Ricky Martinez in 2019 when he escaped from the Española hospital. At the time, Martinez was in custody and being treated for an infection. He was arrested a month later after a SWAT standoff in Chimayo.

Before that, he fled and rammed a vehicle into Sheriff James Lujan while allegedly committing burglaries. He also escaped from the jail in Tierra Amarilla in 2018, and committed a series of burglaries and batteries.

Martinez also beat a man on the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. Online court documents show the District Attorney’s Office worked with federal prosecutors on a plea deal that sent Martinez to federal prison for three years for 14 cases. According to court documents, it appears he was released this past May.

Blakes Lottaburger issued the following statement:

We are heartbroken by the loss of a Blake’s Lotaburger team member last night in a shooting at our Española store. Our focus now, and moving forward, is supporting our employees and their families. We have been reaching out to our employees to offer support and assistance as well as arranging grief counseling.

We understand that authorities have identified the suspect and we are fully cooperating as the investigation continues.

Words cannot express how we feel in losing one of our own.

Brian Rule, President, Blake’s Lotaburger