Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Major Lorenzo Aguilar reports the suspect, 23-year-old Ryan Martinez, is in custody. He also says the victim was shot somewhere in the “upper torso area near the chest.” At this time there is no update on the condition or the severity of the victim’s injuries.
Video showed Martinez, in a green sweatshirt and “Make America Great Again” hat, standing in the crowd alongside other counter-protesters. The video then showed protestors trying to kick him out of the area right in front of the sheriff’s office. “He was trying to get back into the circle. And they were trying to hold him from coming back in because there were children there. And that’s when an altercation took place,” said Raymon Naranjo who witnessed the shooting.
He jumped over a wall as the group chasing him tried to grab him before he pulled a gun from his waistband and fired a single shot. According to the sheriff’s office, after the shooting, Martinez drove off from the scene. Espanola police later arrested Martinez.
The statue of conquistador Juan de Oñate was removed in 2020 and put in storage. It was supposed to be put back on display this week. However, it was postponed amid protests.
This is the second time a shooting has erupted at a Juan de Oñate protest. On June 15, 2020, a large crowd protested the Oñate statue near Old Town in Albuquerque. Stephen Baca shot and injured Scott Williams during the protest. Baca claimed self-defense. He accepted a plea deal that dismissed the aggravated battery charge with a deadly weapon which is a felony. He did plead no contest to one aggravated battery charge and guilty to battery for pushing two women down. He pled guilty to unlawfully carrying a deadly weapon because he concealed his gun without a license.
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez released the following statement regarding the shooting:
“I strongly condemn the cowardly act of violence that we witnessed today in Rio Arriba County and stand ready to assist local law enforcement in whatever way possible. There is no excuse and no place for political violence in America. Regardless of our diverse political views we must remain committed to the rule of law and the right of every citizen to express themselves without fear,” said AG Torrez.