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Update: Suspect, three others killed in Farmington shooting; two officers injured

Witnesses say 100 rounds fired within 20 minutes
The 700 block of North Dustin Avenue in Farmington on Monday, May 15. At least four people, including a suspected gunman, were killed Monday. (David Edward Albright/Tri-City Record)

At least four people, including a suspected gunman, were killed and several others including two officers were injured about 11 a.m. Monday in a shooting near Dustin Avenue and Navajo Street in Farmington, according to law enforcement officials.

A video statement released Monday night by Farmington Chief of Police Steve Hebbe confirmed that the suspect fired at least three different weapons, including an AR-style rifle. He also confirmed that three citizens were killed, two officers were wounded, four other citizens were injured and the suspect was “ultimately shot and killed by responding officers.”

According to Hebbe, the shooting appears to have been random with no schools, churches or individuals being specifically targeted. He said the suspect “roamed the neighborhood,” up to about ¼ mile. At least six houses and three car were shot at before officers located the suspect in the 700 block of North Dustin Avenue at shot and killed him, Hebbe said.

Hebbe said the FPD officer who was shot has been treated and released and the State Police officer who was shot remains in the hospital but is “doing well.”

Witnesses said more than 100 rounds were fired within 20 minutes as a gunman reportedly walked down the street while firing a weapon.

Several residents said gunfire was not uncommon in the neighborhood, but not at this level.

“I was sitting here at work and I heard a couple of noises that sounded like fireworks,” said Brian White of Rodahl & Hummell Architecture. “At at first there was one, then a couple minutes later there was another one and maybe two or three minutes later, I heard a series of pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. About that time I heard a police car go by.”

Deputy Chief Baric Crum of the Farmington Police Department stated at a news conference about 4 p.m. that calls began coming in about the shooting at 10:57 a.m. in the area of Dustin Avenue and Ute Street.

According to Crum, four officers arrived to a “chaotic scene” and observed the suspect “actively firing upon individuals.” The officers “made contact” with the suspect and ended the threat.

“Besides the suspect himself, who is deceased, there were nine other people injured,” Crum said.

It was unclear whether the number of the injured included the two injured officers. The two officers – a Farmington Police Department officer and a New Mexico State Police officer – were in stable condition and were being treated at San Juan Regional Medical Center, an earlier news release from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office said.

A news release from San Juan Regional Medical Center stated the hospital “received seven patients from this incident. This includes the two officers.”

The suspect was identified as an 18-year-old male. The name of the suspect or information on why he was in the area was not provided by Crum, but he stated they believed he was working alone.

Crum stated that multiple state and local agencies responded to the threat and coordinated efforts to contain the scene.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted at 12:50 p.m. that agents from Phoenix were responding to the “mass shooting” in Farmington.

A second press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday to provide updates on the investigation.

According to witnesses, about 40 police vehicles were on scene during the early stages of the law enforcement response to the shooting. Law enforcement from multiple agencies have remained on-scene throughout the afternoon as the investigation continued.

Kyle Watchman said he was inside his house on Dustin Avenue when he heard many gunshots.

“I came out of my house wondering what was happening and I see the guy casually walking down the street, shooting at cars, holding a handgun with an extended clip,” Watchman said. “I don’t know he was just hunting.”

Watchman later identified the shooter as the body found lying in the church yard in the 700 block of Dustin Avenue.

Another resident said he faced gunfire himself.

“I heard a lot of gunfire about 20 minutes ago,” said Steve Lujan. “They were firing for a good 15 to 20 minutes long. They were firing at each other for about five minutes before anyone got here. I seen the shooter that was down there at the church.”

Lujan added that he was shot at and ran from the scene. He added that the man who lay dead at the scene had shot at him.

Another resident, who wished not to be identified, also said he was shot at by the same deceased man.

“Oh yeah, he shot at me. I was walking up to him. Then he started shooting at me so I hauled (expletive).” He said one of the bullets hit a nearby residence and added that he heard about 100 rounds fired near Mojave Street.

Kandi Brammell, who lives next door to the church where one body was found, said she heard gunshots a little before 11 a.m.

“At first, we just heard one and thought it might be fireworks, but as they got closer, we knew they weren't fireworks,” she said.

Brammell added that she and a friend exited her house and saw a man who was wearing all black walk around the church while yelling. She then saw him “coming down the street shooting an automatic long gun randomly across the street.”

Law enforcement from multiple agencies have remained on-scene most of the afternoon. (David Edward Albright/Tri-City Record)
Mayor and governor respond

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett released a statement about 6:30 p.m. expressing his sorrow about the “horrific tragedy that claimed the lives of three innocent citizens and injured several others.” He added the “act of violence that has left us reeling in anguish and disbelief.”

He thanked members of the public for calling in the shots fired, as well as first responders and San Juan Regional Medical Center staff for their care of the wounded. He also commended the response times of law enforcement agencies and said, “Countless lives were saved because of their timely response.”

“We are a resilient community, a community that cares for each other,” he said. “In the face of adversity, we must stand together, comfort one another, and make a determined effort to heal these wounds so we can emerge stronger and not allow this act of violence to define us.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news release that she would make state resources available to the city and county.

“I have directed the state to provide whatever support the city and county need as they conduct a thorough investigation and as the community begins to heal,” she said. “I am praying for the families of the victims, the wounded and the entire community of Farmington following this horrific tragedy.”

She also vowed to work to stop gun violence.

“Although details continue to emerge about this incident, this serves as yet another reminder of how gun violence destroys lives in our state and our country every single day,” she said. “This administration will not stop fighting the epidemic of gun violence from every angle possible.”

The sequence of events

Shortly after 11 a.m., shots fired were reported in the area of Brookside Park in Farmington. A perimeter of several blocks was shut down, and command was set up near Dustin Avenue and Navajo Street.

Dustin Avenue remained shut down between Ute Street and Apache Street as law enforcement continued to investigate the shooting. Residents were asked avoid the area and use alternate routes of travel.

All Farmington schools were placed on preventative lockdown, with Apache Elementary, McKinley Elementary and the Cate Center placed on emergency lockdown at 11:34 a.m.

Preventative lockdowns were lifted on all but Apache, McKinley and Cate schools at 11:40 a.m. The three schools in the immediate area remained on emergency lockdown until 1:54 p.m.

The Sheriff’s Office confirmed about 1:23 p.m. that “multiple officers from the Farmington Police Department were involved in an officer-involved shooting” and that one suspect in the Dustin-area shooting was “confronted and killed on scene.”

The suspect’s identity was unknown, and no other threats remained, the news release said about 1:25 p.m.

Law enforcement staged in the old Tibbets Middle School parking lot while conducting an investigation into the shootings. (David Edward Albright/Tri-City Record)
About 40 law enforcement vehicles were on-site in response to the Dustin-area shooting. (David Edward Albight/Tri-City Record)

Early scanner traffic indicated that one shooter was at large and as many as three individuals had been shot. The suspect was reported to have two pistol-type weapons.

Helicopter support was deployed to assist in the search for the shooting suspect.

One victim was reported to be a 35-year-old male who had been shot in the arm.

The body of a young white male clad in black clothing and tan work boots was observed on the lawn of a church in the 700 block of North Dustin.

Multiple vehicles and residences were reported to have bullet holes. Scanner traffic reported that a vehicle in the 600 block of Glade Road had shot-out windows and blood inside the vehicle.

Information on shooting delayed

Reporters’ requests for information on the shooting from Farmington Police Department at 11:34 a.m. received no response.

About 1 p.m., Duckett said he did not have information on the shooting. He added that the police department would be releasing a statement as soon as possible. About 3 p.m., Duckett said, “These tragedies are terrible.”

The official statement on the shooting was released by the Sheriff’s Office at 1:23 p.m. and on the FPD Facebook page to the public at 1:17 p.m.

Anyone with immediate information on the shooting is asked to call dispatch at (505) 334-6622.

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