A nearly four hour standoff in Albuquerque’s North Valley ended Thursday afternoon with a suspect in custody and no one injured.
The suspect, 40-year old Michael Ray Nieto is accused of firing shots at New Mexico State Police officers who were trying to arrest him Thursday.
The incident unfolded around noon at a small apartment complex along Candelaria Road northwest, near the intersection of Fifth Street.
New Mexico State Police says its “Auto Theft Suppression Unit” alongside the New Mexico Department of Corrections “Security Theft Intelligence Unit” were trying to serve a warrant on Nieto, who’s wanted in Bernalillo County for violating his probation.
Nieto was on probation for burglary and car theft charges, according to State Police.
Officers found Nieto at his apartment, but when they tried to arrest him, State Police say Nieto was brandishing a handgun and was heard “yelling inside that he would shoot officers.”
“The suspect went back inside and there were continued shots fired by the suspect,” said Lt. Elizabeth Armijo of New Mexico State Police.
State Police say an NMSP sergeant also fired his gun at least once. It’s unclear how many shots were fired in total.
After the shots were fired, police say Nieto barricaded himself inside him apartment. Other police officers from various local agencies swarmed the area in response, including APD SWAT.
During the standoff, police blocked the roads near Fourth Street and Candelaria, forcing many local business to shut down and nearby schools into lockdown.
“The cop cars started coming out of everywhere,” said Julio Cesar Veragutierrez, who was eating lunch at the Blake’s Lotaburger when the SWAT situation began.
“This place just got barricaded in then we couldn’t leave, they told us this was all closed in so we couldn’t leave,” said Veragutierrez.
The lockdown mainly affected nearby Garfield Middle School. Many kids there were forced to stay in place for hours.
Several parents of schoolkids stood along the sidewalk, watching police and waiting for the standoff to end.
“It’s scary, I want my kids home,” said Rose Larrison, a mother of a seventh grade student.
The mother of a sixth grader, Loretta teared up Thursday, thinking of her kid at Garfield Middle School.
“He’s in sixth grade, it’s terrifying, you know? And then I have my two babies that go to La Luz, they’re in elementary and they’re on lockdown too,” she said.
Around 4 p.m., parents were finally reunited with their students.
Middle school students who spoke with KRQE News 13 described the incident as “scary.”
“I was a little worried because since its the lunch room there were tons of windows,” said Tera Larrison.
Nieto remained in custody Thursday night at MDC. His criminal history dates back to 1995, with numerous cases tied to car theft, DWI, drug and burglary charges.