FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Three people were killed and two police officers were among at least seven people injured Monday when an 18-year-old opened fire in a northwestern New Mexico community before law enforcement fatally shot the suspect, authorities said.
The shootings occurred around 11 a.m. in Farmington, a city of about 50,000 people near the Utah state line that is a supply line and bedroom community to the region’s oil and natural gas industry.
Officers responding to several calls about a shooting found “a chaotic scene” where a man was firing at people on a residential street, Farmington Police Deputy Chief Baric Crum said during a news conference.
Police confronted the suspect before fatally shooting him. They found three people dead.
Crum did not identify the suspect and said he didn’t know the ages of any of the victims. Police were trying to determine why he was in the neighborhood.
San Juan Regional Medical Center received seven injured people, including a Farmington police officer and a State Police officer. Roberta Rogers, a hospital spokesperson, would not comment on their status.
The two officers were in stable condition, according to Crum.
Mayor Nate Duckett said in a statement that both had been shot but their injuries were not life-threatening.
“Today, our community experienced a horrific tragedy that claimed the lives of three innocent citizens and injured several others,” Duckett said, adding that the shooting “has left us reeling in anguish and disbelief.”
Farmington police have not responded to repeated requests for further details about the injured.
“There are no other known threats at this time,” police said, adding that city, San Juan County and State Police officers were involved.
Joseph Robledo, a 32-year-old tree trimmer, said he rushed home after learning that his wife and 1-year-old daughter had sought shelter in the laundry room when gunshots rang out. A bullet went through his daughter’s window and room, without hitting anyone.
Robledo jumped a fence to get in through the back door. Out front he found an older woman in the street who had been wounded while driving by. She appeared to have fallen out of her car, which kept rolling without her, he said.
“I went out to see because the lady was just lying in the road, and to figure just what the heck was going on,” Robledo said. He and others began to administer first aid.
Neighbors directed an arriving police officer toward the suspect.
“We were telling (the officer), ‘He’s down there.’ … The cop just went straight into action,” Robledo said.
Robledo’s own family car was perforated with bullets.
“We’ve been doing yard work all last week. I just thank God that nobody was outside in front,” he said. “… Obviously, elderly people — he didn’t have no sympathy for them. Who’s to say he would have sympathy for a little kid.”
Investigators will now have to look at a crime scene that spans several blocks, according to Crum. Police are asking for anyone with information to come forward.
“What we now need from our community is anybody that has any additional information, whether that be eyewitness information or video information or whatever it may be, if you feel it’s pertinent,” Crum said.
After the shootings were reported, the city’s schools were placed on what officials called “preventative lockdown.”
Middle school teacher Nick Akins, whose home is on a street that police locked down, described the neighborhood as a mostly great place to live, with a mix of homes, short-term rental apartments and churches.
“It’s not like the roughest area in town, but it can be,” he said. “We have great neighbors and rentals, people who come and go. We don’t always know everyone.”
Seeing Farmington in the national spotlight for yet another mass shooting, particularly one that occurred on his street, was surreal for him.
“You never think it’s going to happen here and all of a sudden, in a tiny little town it comes here,” Akins said.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that she was praying for the families of the victims and that the incident “serves at yet another reminder of how gun violence destroys lives in our state and our country every single day.” The governor, a Democrat, did not describe any other circumstances of the deadly confrontation.
“Today, gun violence took the lives of our elders, wounded two police officers, and paralyzed Farmington’s small community in fear,” U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat, whose district includes the area, said on Facebook. “I praise the heroes who drove to danger to stop the violence. I pray for the quick recovery of the wounded and for the families of those we lost.”
“Our beautiful Nuevo Mexico is not immune to the mass shootings that occur across the country — Every. Single. Day,” the message said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted that agents from Phoenix were headed to Farmington to assist in the investigation.
Farmington is not far from where New Mexico borders Colorado, Utah and Arizona. In recent years, cafes and breweries have cropped up downtown alongside decades-old businesses that trade in Native American crafts from silver jewelry to wool weavings.
Last month Farmington police shot and killed a man at his front door after they went to the wrong address while responding to a domestic violence call.
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