NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A New Mexico couple shot while driving along I-25 back in April 2020 is suing New Mexico State Police. The couple said police should have done a better job protecting the public from a gunman who was targeting drivers in the area.
Pat and Jennifer Martinez were driving from their home in Chimayo to Albuquerque to help their daughter sell her house. They said if they had known there was a gunman on a months-long shooting spree along I-25 they would have taken another route.
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“Lots and lots of people would’ve made the decision had they known there was somebody on the loose shooting randomly at cars that’s not a risk we would’ve wanted to have taken,” said civil rights attorney Laura Schauer Ives.
According to the lawsuit, the couple was driving along I-25 between Santo Domingo and San Felipe pueblo when they heard a loud crack. Pat said he thought they had been hit by a brick or a rock, but when they pulled over both of their ears were ringing and he was bleeding from his head.
He had shotgun pellets lodged in his head and torso. His wife had been hit in the ear and inhaled glass particles. The paramedics caring for the Martinez couple told them they had been shot at too.
The lawsuit claims state police were aware of the shootings and in one case a victim tried to give a bullet to an officer who told them “Keep it as a souvenir.” The couple claims state police did not treat this with enough urgency and could have notified drivers of the danger by electronic billboards, emergency text messages, or even generating leads through media coverage.
“The duty to warn is connected to the investigation by letting the public know that this was happening, perhaps the public could have offered tips and fewer people could have been shot at and harmed,” said Ives.
The lawsuit claims when state police did send out a press release, they claim to have arrested a man named Gunner Johnson for a road rage shooting in that area, making it seem like he was the suspect in the other shootings even though it didn’t fit the same pattern, after Johnson’s arrest, there were reports of 3 more shootings.
Police eventually arrested another suspect, Byron Rosetta, 37 whom they said is a mentally ill veteran with a meth addiction. He’s been charged federally since the shootings happened on pueblo land.
The Martinezes said the shooting has left them with physical, psychological, and economic damages. KRQE reached out to state police about the lawsuit, but they did not get back to us.