DA Wants Oñate Rally Shooter Behind Bars Until Trial

Supporters raise more than $176,000 for victim, who is recovering from surgery

Prosecutors will seek to keep Ryan Martinez in jail while a criminal case against him moves through the courts.

Martinez, 23, is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in a shooting Sept. 28 outside the Rio Arriba County complex as Indigenous groups held a rally at a spot where county officials had planned to erect a statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate. Martinez has been in custody following the incident in which witnesses say—and videos show—he scuffled with rally attendees, then drew a gun and shot Washington artist and activist Jacob Johns and pointed the gun at another person.

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies tells SFR in an interview Sunday that her office plans to file a motion Monday morning asking for pre-trial detention in the case.

“We will be asking the court to hold him in custody pending trial,” she says.

Prosecutors will partly rely on statements police say Martinez made during interviews, as well as how the police described his demeanor, she confirmed. New Mexico State Police Agent Shane Faulkner wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit that Martinez, “with a smirk on his face, asked if someone who attempted a murder would be allowed to walk out.” When Faulkner explained the matter would be up to a judge, he reports Martinez said “that was crazy and stupid.” Faulkner also showed Martinez a photo that someone texted him showing Martinez pointing a gun at the rally, and Martinez then “chuckled.”

But the foremost reason prosecutors will file the motion, Carmack-Altwies says, is “the nature of the charges. It’s bringing a gun to what was a peaceful protest and using that gun. In this district, for the most part, we are filing motions when people fire their guns at people. Those are the types of crimes that are the most violent and have the worst possible outcomes for the victims in general. And so it is our general practice to file a motion to hold people in jail when they’re using guns in the commission of a crime.”

Carmack-Atlwies says two assistant district attorneys in Rio Arriba County are handling the case for now, but she intends to take over along with a chief deputy.

Martinez is due to appear in Rio Arriba Magistrate Court on Monday, but as soon as the DA files the motion, she explains, the jurisdiction of the case will move to District Court, where a hearing will be scheduled for another day.

Johns, a Hopi and Akimel O’odham climate activist and artist, has undergone surgery in Albuquerque and is recovering with the help of family members who have flown to New Mexico, according to a GoFundMe established on his behalf, which had raised more than $176,000 as of press time.

The Backbone Campaign lists him as one of its community supported organizers.

“I draw from my cultural heritage continuously as I work, using traditional ceremonious concepts, combined with art and activism with each event, rally and movement, taking us one step closer to a mindful planetary consciousness,” Johns writes on a profile published by Backbone. “I am stepping full time into this work in order to help co-create tangible goals instead of adding to opposition. We as human beings need to create new ways of connecting that break down imagined walls of separation.”

Johns had joined others at the Rio Arriba Complex site early the day of the shooting, and one person who attended the rally told SFR Johns participated in a prayer before the event kicked off. People had been camped out at the site for days in preparation for a plan from county officials to install a statue on the site that had been removed from public view in Alcalde three years earlier. The county had announced Wednesday, Sept. 27 it would not proceed with the installation that had been planned for the next day.

That’s the reason one witness tells SFR the rally had a celebratory tone.

According to a statement issued Sunday morning by The Red Nation, one of the groups who organized the event, Martinez was an “agitator” at the event.

“In the moments leading up to the shooting, the agitator attempted to approach the small crowd of mostly Indigenous women and children congregating around the event’s speakers in front of the building’s main entrance. Video evidence shows that Jacob Johns and other community peacekeepers successfully stopped the agitator from approaching the crowd,” reads the statement, which goes on to explain that after Martinez shot Johns, he aimed the gun at Malaya Peixinho and pulled the trigger, but the weapon jammed.

The State Police affidavit names Peixinho as the victim in the assault charges. She told police Martinez pointed the gun at her and “had an evil smile.”

The Red Nation statement also advocated for Martinez’s detention until trial.

“We know from first-hand experience that politically—and racially—motivated shootings like this embolden other like-minded vigilantes who hold the same contempt for Indigenous people and organizers,” it reads. “The agitator and his sympathizers pose a very real and serious threat to all Indigenous people, and to Indigenous women activists specifically.”

Updated: Assistant District Norman Attorney Wheeler filed the motion Monday. It details how the FBI confirmed it had interviewed Martinez as it investigated threatening tweets he made on Twitter in 2020 about the Federal Reserve, including one that said it was “time to put a bullet in some people’s head.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said Martinez had been in custody since “a few minutes” after the incident. That’s been removed. The Pojoaque Tribal Police arrested Martinez driving his vehicle south on US 84/285 as he fled the scene.

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