Oñate Shooter to Stay in Jail

Judge says Ryan Martinez presents ‘clear and present danger,’ DA plans to add hate-crime enhancement

District Judge Jason Lidyard found probable cause for attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a man who shot into a crowded protest in Española. The judge also ordered Ryan Martinez remain behind bars pending his trial.

Martinez, 23—who prosecutors say drove to the Rio Arriba County Complex from his home in Sandia Park on Sept. 28 to interact with Indigenous groups protesting the county’s plan to re-erect a statue Juan de Onate—appeared at an hearing at the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse that lasted most of the day Friday.

Lidyard said because of the nature of the alleged crime and Martinez’s previous behavior, including that he sent threatening tweets about federal officials in 2018, Martinez presents “clear and present danger to his community.”

“Although there is a right to bear arms, Mr. Martinez arrived at the scene and engaged in activity that day that those around him would describe as aggressive,” Lidyard said, adding later, “It’s concerning behavior to say the least. It is certainly violent in its nature and the circumstances seem to have been created by Mr. Martinez.”

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies tells SFR her office plans to next file a hate-crime enhancement in the case, which can increase the sentence if a jury finds Martinez guilty.

“We’ve looked at the evidence that’s been presented in court today, and we think he targeted someone because of their origin or nationality,” she said Friday evening. “We are very glad that he was held and the charges were bound over. I think it went very well. We’ve definitely got some more work to do as far as the investigation of the case, but that’s expected.”

Eyewitnesses including journalists watched Martinez draw a gun from his waistband and shoot Jacob Johns, then point the gun at a woman at the rally before he ran away. Ten people, including several police, testified for the prosecution in the hearing, during which attorneys from the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office also played a portion of a video captured by rally attendee Ray Naranjo.

Naranjo made a video of the moments before the shooting and the shooting itself as he watched the rally alongside his partner. At first, Naranjo testified, he aimed to record Indigenous activists speakers in front of a crowd, but turned the camera on Martinez when he realized conflict had broken out.

“We were alarmed and both wondering what was going on,” Naranjo said. “I ducked down not knowing what was happening. It was so fast, and previously to that, people were going home. It was sort of the end of the event. It was mixed emotions. As I walked towards the confrontation that was happening, then the confrontation came towards me and that’s when you see Ryan Martinez jumping over the wall…and then there was an altercation and he jumped back over the wall, and then you can see him pull the gun and he shot it.”

The bullet struck Johns, a Hopi and Akimel O’odham climate activist from Washington state, who suffered extensive injuries to his lung, spleen and liver, and remains hospitalized in Albuquerque. Dr. Daniel Sarraf, a physician at University of New Mexico Hospital, testified that Johns sustained level-one trauma injuries, which Sarraf called “the most serious classification you can have at the hospital.”

Johns’ mother Laverne McGrath told reporters before the hearing that her son is in “excruciating pain” that doctors haven’t been able to manage.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” she said.

Martinez also allegedly aimed at Malaya Peixinho, who testified that she had attended a sunrise ceremony at the site and had spoken with Martinez before the rally began.

“I saw Jacob hit the ground and when I looked back up…the gun was pointed right at me. I felt so afraid. I had just seen a man drop to the ground and the smell of the gun was still lingering toward me, I was shaking and I froze. I ran immediately to the left and the first thing I did after was pray for Ryan Martinez,” she said.

Pojoaque Pueblo police arrested Martinez about 11 miles from the scene. Officer Joseph Talachy said in the hearing that Martinez was largely compliant during the arrest, but refused to provide his Social Security Number and was not carrying an ID. Talachy said Martinez bore an expression that the officer “does not typically see in drivers…He wasn’t smiling or frowning. He had a straight mouth with his eyebrows really high, eyes really wide, which was abnormal.”

Police recovered a pistol from a holster Martinez wore at the time of his arrest, along with an extra magazine. They later found a second Glock 19 in the Tesla he was driving. Martinez has remained incarcerated since his arrest.

Prosecutors asked the court to mandate custody out of concern for the public’s safety, with Deputy DA Norman Wheeler arguing in a motion filed Oct. 2 that “the danger to the community cannot be overstated.”

Martinez brought a loaded gun and additional ammunition to “a peaceful community event celebrating the fact that a statue of Juan de Oñate, a Spanish conquistador from New Spain whose conquests killed hundreds of those in the Acoma Pueblo, would not be put up in front of the Española County government building campus,” it reads.

The motion included a letter from the FBI confirming it had questioned Martinez earlier about threatening tweets he posted in 2018, such as one directed at the Federal Reserve that read: “Time to end the fed and put a bullet in someone’s head.”

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies tells SFR she plans to take over the case as it moves forward and noted her office typically asks for pre-trial detention in cases where suspects fire guns at people.

Wheeler said prosecutors plan to file an additional charge of reckless driving against Martinez.

While Jenn Burrill, the district’s chief public defender, initially represented Martinez, private attorneys Nicole Moss and Marshall Ray have replaced her.

“The evidence that has been presented shows that Mr. Martinez was acting with sufficient provocation when he drew his firearm and shot one bullet at Mr. Johns,” Moss said in the hearing. “In a sheer act of panic and fear for his life, you see him very quickly pull out his firearm and fire one shot at one of his attackers. All his behavior leading up to the shooting does not show somebody who is planning to commit a crime.”

Defense attorneys did not present any witnesses during the hearing. Martinez, who wore orange jail clothes and had his hair pulled into a ponytail, remained largely expressionless during the early part of the hearing, occasionally whispering with Moss. But when Lidyard reviewed security footage and Naranjo’s video, he put his head on the table, began audibly crying and became red in the face. He holds a concealed carry permit from the state and was “exercising his Second Amendment right,” Moss said.

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