Updated: June 16, 2020 06:21 PM
Created: June 16, 2020 06:16 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The New Mexico Civil Guard, an armed militia group, is distancing themselves from the man who is accused of shooting someone as people were trying to tear down the Juan de Oñate statue near Old Town Monday night.
"The crowd got violent. It's the most hateful people I've seen," said a member of the New Mexico Civil Guard, who did not want to be identified. "They like to call it a peaceful protest but there was nothing peaceful about it."
As people put chains around the Oñate, the New Mexico Civil Guard stepped in.
"And so we interposed ourselves because the mob at that point – it was no longer a peaceful protest – it was a mob," he said.
The man said a member of the militia called police before the shooting happened but no one responded.
Mayor Tim Keller said the Albuquerque Police Department's response is under investigation.
"I do know our deputy chief is looking into those call logs at this time," Keller said.
Police said they are investigating whether the alleged shooter, Steven Baca, is connected to the New Mexico Civil Guard.
The militia said he is not part of their group. However, they did try to protect him as tensions mounted.
"They secured the perimeter to help them keep the integrity of the investigation that was going to happen so that no evidence would be destroyed and because the mob was angry and yelling murderer and moving in. And so we needed to keep them back from the suspect in a possible homicide investigation."
Keller said APD does not work with militias, but the New Mexico Civil Guard said some officers thanked them for being at the protest despite being detained for several hours after the shooting.
They were eventually released.
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