4 Investigates: Man attacks neighbor’s home
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Our homes are supposed to be our safe place. But an Albuquerque family said their home feels more like a prison. It’s now a target for destructive attacks from their longtime next-door neighbor.
However, the problem is much bigger than a neighborly dispute and help seems to be just out of reach.
“I was talking to her, and I could hear the loud bangs on the door – bang, bang, bang,” said Bill Heitz, a northeast Albuquerque resident. “And then the connection was lost.”
“He approached me, and he said, ‘Why don’t you go back where you came from?’” said Lam Ho.
Lam Ho’s family is still finding and cleaning up shards of glass they overlooked around his childhood home.
“It looks like he’s walking through our driveway right now,” said Ho.
On edge, Lam Ho said his new cameras are the only warning they have.
After nearly 40 years, in a peaceful northeast Albuquerque neighborhood, they are scared to go outside and scared of what their longtime, once-friendly neighbor will do next.
“Right now, we’re in survival mode. We’re just trying to defend ourselves right now and find a way to get this guy the help he needs,” said Ho.
Bill Heitz lives with Lam Ho’s mom. He said their neighbor, Mark Dowdy, started acting strangely a few weeks back. He put a black shirt on their doorstep, a picture of a young girl, and other items at their doorstep. It was the first of many haunting signs to come. Just after that, the Ho family said he turned his rage to their house.
He threw a bolt through an upstairs window.
“He had thrown a ladder, I guess over the wall. There’s a hammer sitting on the patio still,” said Ho. “It actually has his name on it.”
It seemed like whatever their neighbor could find wound up in their home – breaking the front windows, the storm door. Heitz said he took a baseball bat to their garage.
“He threw a second swamp cooler motor through the back sliding glass doors, as well as, a metal patio table, metal patio chair, a barbeque grill and propane tank,” said Heitz.
“I’ve never heard my mom cry, ever in my entire life and she was sobbing and had panic in her voice,” said Ho.
Police arrested Dowdy on Feb. 22, 2023. He told them he thought the neighbor was a Chinese spy. Dowdy was charged with a felony, but it was a property crime, so he was out of jail a short time later.
He had conditions of release in place that barred him from going back to the Ho house. But Lam Ho said those conditions didn’t hold much weight. After his release, Ho’s new cameras caught Dowdy going back and forth on their property.
Dowdy told KOB 4 he didn’t want to talk to us, but his family helped fill in some of the gaps.
“My brother, with some of his delusions was convinced that they were spies,” said Kathleen Lloyd, Mark’s sister. “So, he took it into his own hands.”
Delusions his sister Kathleen Lloyd said her family just learned about a mental health crisis that is escalating.
“The mantra in the world today is ‘see something, say something,’ and that’s what we’re trying to do and then the hospital and the cops say, ‘well he’s got his rights so we can’t just take him and put him in the facility,’ I’m thinking, well he’s ill, how is he going to give permission if he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with him,” said Lloyd.
It’s a problem that’s more common than you may think. Gabrielle Dietrich is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Health New Mexico. She said even people experiencing a mental health crisis have rights.
“Do we know what the perfect answer is? Do we have a magic bullet, no we do not,” said Dietrich.
Dowdy’s family said that just means they’re waiting for something even worse to happen.
“It’s obviously not anyone’s intention to wait until someone gets hurt to get someone help,” said Dietrich. “I think the rules that exist, exist, again, because of shortages because of gaps in the system.”
State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino said Senate Bill 310 would do. The legislation would give police or crisis response teams the ability to involuntarily take a person in crisis to a triage center, an option they do not currently have.
“These are cases where the police officer can see that this person who may be protesting that ‘I don’t want to go’ needs to go and get stabilized,” said Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino.
They’d be allowed to involuntarily hold them for 72 hours. But even if it clears the Roundhouse this year, there are still hurdles, like getting crisis triage centers fully operational around the state.
“Right now, in Las Cruces is the only fully developed one. But in Santa Fe we have one that’s beginning to operate and in Albuquerque, we have one under construction,” said Sen. Ortiz y Pino.
While state policies and facilities rush to catch up, Lloyd said her family is left behind.
“I know my brother has rights. But at the same time, my father’s neighbors, myself, my father have rights too. To feel safe in our own homes, to know that if we cannot find the help there’s someone out there that will step in and say ‘yes, let’s get your brother some help,’” said Lloyd.
At the Ho family home, they are holding their breath hoping they don’t do anything to set him off.
“Not knowing what he’s capable of,” said Ho.
Dowdy has violated the conditions of his release by going back to the Ho home. A motion has been filed for a judge to review those conditions. In a couple of weeks, a judge will review those violations and determine what happens next.
There are some resources for community members and families going through something like this.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a crisis you can also call the national hotline where you can talk to a trained professional. That number is 988.