Man accused of murder previously seen in video fighting Grants mayor

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GRANTS, N.M. – 27-year-old Curtis Salazar is charged with first-degree murder, and tampering with evidence after police say he murdered another man inside his mother’s home. 

“It’s probably one of the worst crime scenes that we’ve had to respond to as a department,” Grants Police Chief Maxine Monte told KOB 4 in response to the bloody crime scene on Monday night. 

Salazar is the same man seen in a video the Grants Mayor Erik Garcia posted on his Facebook page back in September. People can see Garcia and Salazar get into a scuffle after the mayor said he was harassing people.

Salazar made his first court appearance Wednesday.

According to investigators, a woman called 911 after she walked into a bedroom and saw a man – 40-year-old Matthew Vallejos –  laying on the ground in a pool of blood. The alleged murder weapon? A machete.

Police say the victim had multiple severed fingers, and they even found a piece of his finger near a floor vent. These injuries along with multiple gashes to the face, arms, and back of the head. Police say there was even brain matter coming out of the victim’s skull.  

Police believe Salazar acted alone. 

“I just want the public, the citizens of Grants, and the citizens of Cibola to know that we have no reason to believe that any other individual was involved with the actual crime of this incident,” said Monte. 

According to investigators, Salazar and Vallejos planned on smoking meth together. The victim allegedly made Salazar uncomfortable and was flirting with him. That’s when Salazar said he would “handle it” and allegedly picked up a machete, and struck Vallejos on the neck.

While the investigation continues, police say they are still looking for other witnesses to talk to. 

“We would like to talk to potential witnesses that may have been there after the crime was committed, and just continue making that contact with the citizens,” said Monte. 

Mayor Garcia got some push back for that street tussle, but ultimately, just paid a citation for disorderly conduct.