GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – We’re learning more about what unfolded Thursday night at the 100th annual Intertribal Ceremonial Parade in Gallup. A 33-year-old man, three times over the legal alcohol limit, driving through the parade, injuring 15 people – including two Gallup police officers.
People are traumatized over what happened in Gallup Thursday – including Martin Martinez, who was standing along the parade route when his young son was almost hit by that alleged drunk driver. “It was quick but you could see the car going down, swerving from side to side, people jumping out of the way. You see them hopping the curb until he got right passed John’s Auto Sales and everybody just coming in the street, making sure everyone was okay,” Martinez said.
The Martinez family can be seen just to the left of the suspect’s SUV in a picture. Police say 33-year-old Jeff Irving and two other men were inside the vehicle, drinking and watching the Intertribal Ceremonial Celebration along the parade route.
When two Gallup police officers confronted Irving, they say he took off, barreling toward parade participants. Both officers were injured when they tried to stop him. Police say Irving continued driving, hitting a parked car and backing into a state police unit before he and the other two men in the SUV were taken into custody.
Witnesses say Irving showed no remorse. “He got so close to them, they could touch the vehicle. When they looked at him, he was just smiling. Didn’t have both hands on the wheel, just one as if he was relaxing, having a joy ride,” said a witness.
Irving blew three times the legal limit. Fifteen people, including the two officers, were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Martinez says he asked officers earlier in the evening why Irving’s SUV was sitting right along the parade route. He believes if police would have made Irving move earlier, this whole thing could have been avoided.
Irving was driving on a suspended license at the time for a prior DWI charge. His two passengers were detained and taken to the Gallup detox center.
The intertribal ceremonial office says the program will go on as planned. However, there will be more of a police presence for the rest of the ceremony. They also announced crisis response teams will be available for those affected by the incident. The tourism department says there will be about sixty behavioral health professionals on site to provide support. The event is scheduled to end on August, 14.