Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal, November 8, 2021
An alert from a gunshot detection device, along with a 911 call brought Albuquerque police to the Adam Food Market on East Central just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Officers found two men shot, one of them already dead, in the parking lot. The other man was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
With that, Albuquerque tallied its 100th suspected homicide of the year. That number grew to 101 about 18 hours later after police found a man, facedown, shot in the head in Northeast Albuquerque.
After a quiet stretch in October, the city was pushed toward the disturbing benchmark — its highest homicide total and rate in recorded history — by a Halloween weekend punctuated by gunfights at multiple parties, followed by three homicides in less than 24 hours.
“We have devoted a lot of resources to the increase in homicides during the pandemic. We want to solve cases and be responsive to families of victims because we know how personal these crimes are, no matter the circumstance,” Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said in a statement Sunday. “At the same time, our detectives are committed to solving homicides from past years, whether they occurred last year or decades ago.”
Medina pointed out the recent spike in gun violence at parties and said the department is planning a public awareness campaign to alert parents, homeowners and students “about the dangers of attending parties that may be targeted by bad actors.”
The majority of this year’s deaths have involved guns, and they include multiple double homicides, one triple homicide and a deadly school shooting. Bar fights, road rage incidents and street squabbles have also erupted in gunfire.
Although homicides have repeatedly hit record-breaking highs in recent years, a growing population had kept Albuquerque below its highest homicide rate — 16.6 per 100,000, in 1996 — when there were 100,000 fewer residents.
With 101 homicides, the city is now just shy of a rate of 18 per 100,000.
Of those cases, 98 are being investigated by the Albuquerque Police Department, and three, including a double homicide, by New Mexico State Police. There has been an arrest or charges filed in 30 of the cases.
The spike in violence once again took center stage in the mayoral race. Incumbent Tim Keller and Chief Medina repeatedly said Albuquerque was experiencing the same trends and spikes experienced in other cities nationally.
Early in the year, APD announced tactical plans targeting hotels and apartment complexes where homicides seemed to cluster. Later, the department became more aggressive about going after violent offenders when four officers were injured in an August gunfight with a robbery suspect.
But the violence hasn’t let up.
January had the highest homicide count, with 13, while February had the lowest, with five. The longest the city went without a slaying was an 11-day stretch in late August and early September.
The biggest groupings of homicides were in the neighborhoods along Central, between Louisiana and Wyoming, and the Downtown area to the river. At least 80 of the homicides were shootings, and the victims covered a wide range in age.