Five killed in northern NM shooting spree
J.R. Oppenheim and Joy Wang
June 16, 2017 07:16 PM
ESPANOLA, N.M. -- The massive northern New Mexico manhunt for a man suspected in five homicides, including some members of his own family, ended with his arrest Thursday night.
In what reportedly started as a domestic dispute, police charged Damian Herrera, 21, with several open counts of murder following the killing spree over a three-hour span on Thursday. Those homicides included the shooting deaths of Herrera's mother Maria Rosita Gallegos, 49, stepfather Max Trujillo Sr., 55, and brother Brendan Herrera, 20, in Rio Arriba County.
The office of District Attorney Marco Serna told KOB Friday afternoon that Gallegos was in critical condition. However, KOB confirmed Gallegos was taken off life support sometime early Friday evening and has died.
New Mexico State Police say Herrera also killed a third man, Michael Kyte, during a carjacking in Taos County, and a fourth man, Manuel Serrano, at a general store in Abiquiu.
None of the victims had a chance, authorities said. They are confident Herrera acted alone.
NMSP distributed a public warning announcement around 8:10 p.m. Thursday evening on behalf of the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office. The announcement said law enforcement sought Herrera and considered him armed and extremely dangerous. Roughly one hour after the alert, NMSP said Herrera had been caught.
In its update sent Friday morning, NMSP said Rio Arriba County deputies got a call at about 3:30 p.m. about a shooting in La Madera. A police investigation revealed Herrera shot his three family members in some sort of domestic dispute, according to state police.
Then another reported shooting call came in at 5:45 p.m., this time in Tres Piedras in Taos County. NMSP said Herrera then killed Kyte, 61, and took off with his Chevrolet pickup. Investigators said the suspect flagged down the driver wanting a ride before killing him. Herrera drove as far as Colorado before then going to Abiquiu.
While there, NMSP said Herrera killed the 59-year-old Serrano at the Bode's General Store around 8:15 p.m.
After Herrera left the store, Rio Arriba County deputies caught up with him on U.S. Highway 84. Herrera led deputies on a high-speed pursuit, even veering into the opposite lane on a curve, NMSP said. In order to avoid an oncoming car, coincidentally driven by an NMSP crisis negotiator, Herrera overcorrected the vehicle and crashed into a tree.
Police said Herrera then got out of the stolen car, and he fought and tried to disarm a deputy. At one point the deputy’s pistol discharged. No one was injured. A second deputy then used his Taser on Herrera. A revolver was recovered from the stolen pickup.
No deputies will be put on leave because of this case.
The Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department is investigating the La Madera shooting while NMSP is investigating the Tres Piedras homicide, the Abiquiu homicide, and the crash. State police have asked the Albuquerque Police Department for crime scene support.
Herrera is being held on a no-bond hold. Aside from a few traffic citations, Herrera does not have a criminal history. Serna said they cannot speak to the suspect's mental state.
J.R. Oppenheim and Joy Wang
Updated: June 16, 2017 07:16 PM
Created: June 15, 2017 08:56 PM
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