Family food truck returns to downtown Albuquerque following shooting
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Central Avenue in downtown Albuquerque is a work in progress. City leaders and APD are working to make the corridor more family-friendly, but it’s a slow process.
No one knows that better than the people who choose to do business there.
“We want to open more food trailers and maybe a restaurant one day, so that’s why we like to do it,” said Alex Rodriguez, Las Chanclitas Food Truck.
Alex Rodriguez, his wife, brother, and mom spend most weekend nights on Central. Rodriguez and his brother joined their mom after 15 years in the restaurant industry.
“She started selling food, and she got us into it,” said Rodriguez.
Now, Las Chanclitas holds a reputation downtown.
“She just loves the way people love her food, and she is popular with all the business here. They go visit her and say ‘Hi’ to her,” Rodriguez said.
They say it’s easier downtown because they know spots are open. They just pay the parking meter and set up.
But that sense of ease also comes with a sense of fear about what any given night downtown holds.
“Sometimes people are crazy, they’re drunk, they can shoot you,” Rodriguez said.
That’s something his mom knows better than most local business owners.
“She was taking an order, and she was leaning into the fridge and out of nothing, they just heard a big shot. And then she felt something like poking on the side of her rib,” said Rodriguez.
Last May, a bullet flew through the side of her truck.
“They told her ‘Hey you’re bleeding on the side, you just got shot,’” said Rodriguez.
They packed her side with paper towels and called police.
“She thought she was gonna die at the moment,” Rodriguez said.
Because Rodriguez says after 3 a.m. they’re mostly on their own. Especially since APD pushed the food trucks to the side streets for a better view of Central.
“I see sometimes people getting shot on the little side of the streets, and then they get hurt, and it takes time for cops to respond,” said Rodriguez.
Downtown cameras helped police track down the suspected shooter – Ambrosia Mirabal. She admitted to drinking and doing drugs before shooting a gun to try and scare her boyfriend.
Rodriguez says his mom is still feeling the effects of that night.
“Outside looks like it’s healing, but she feels pain on the inside,” he said.
But like clockwork, she’s back in the truck every Thursday night.
“She still has to work because she has bills to pay,” said Rodriguez. “Every time she gets checked at the doctor, it’s a big bill.”
But this family isn’t letting it interfere with their dreams of business beyond Central.
“When something happens, we just stay away because we don’t want to get hurt or like something that happened to her,” said Rodriguez.
The suspect in the shooting earlier this year is currently out of jail, waiting for a trial sometime next year.
The Rodriguez family says they’re pushing to get their trailers back on Central – instead of the side streets – so there’s better lighting, and they feel safer.
That’s a decision that will have to come from Albuquerque police.