Morning Word

NM State Police ID UNM Weekend Shooting Victim

Santa Fe County kicks off Agua Fria road construction

Police ID UNM shooting victim

New Mexico State Police yesterday said University of New Mexico student Brandon Travis, 19, died as a result of an altercation on the UNM campus. According to state police, the incident occurred at approximately 3 am, Nov. 19 between Travis and a 21-year-old New Mexico State University student. NMSP did not name the student, but the Albuquerque Journal has identified him as NMSU basketball player Mike Peake, who was in Albuquerque to play a scheduled game between the Aggies and the Lobos (which was subsequently canceled). Both Travis and Peake “sustained gunshot wounds” as a result of the altercation, the police say, with Travis pronounced dead on the scene and Peake—whose current condition was unknown as of press time—taken to a local hospital. According to the state police, its investigation has thus far revealed that “Travis had conspired with a 17-year-old female and two of Travis’s male friends, all UNM students, to lure the 21-year-old victim to UNM campus and assault him. Once at the campus, Travis, armed with a firearm, confronted and shot the victim. The victim, who also had a firearm, shot Travis. The female and the other two males fled the scene.” The female was arrested and booked into the juvenile detention center and charged with aggravated battery and conspiracy. State police say they have identified the other two males and are working with the DA to determine if they face any charges. The investigation remains active. “The entire Lobo community is shaken by this incident, and we mourn the death of one of our students and the injuries sustained by another individual,” UNM President Garnett S. Stokes wrote in a statement. “The impact of this experience is life-changing for so many and will extend far beyond expressions of grief and sense of loss—and far beyond the Lobo community. I cannot express how deeply saddened I am by this tragedy on so many levels.”

Sheriff releases Rust report

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Friday released its more than 500-page investigation of the Oct. 21, 2021 shooting on the Rust film set that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced on Oct. 27 her office had received the Rust investigation from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department and would begin a “thorough review of the information and evidence to make a thoughtful, timely decision about whether to bring charges.” Last month Rust Productions announced a settlement of the wrongful death lawsuit over Hutchins’ death. Earlier this month, producer and actor Alec Baldwin filed a negligence lawsuit against the film’s crew. Baldwin’s cell phone has featured prominently in the year since the shooting, as the sheriff’s department sought both a search warrant last December and subsequent help from the DA’s office to acquire the phone and its contents. As the Santa Fe New Mexican notes, the sheriff’s report does not reveal Baldwin’s phone records from the day of the shooting, and the sheriff’s department confirmed much of Baldwin’s phone records have not yet been released because they are encrypted and still require redactions. As the New York Times reports, the sheriff’s department report also does not reveal the source of the live rounds in the gun Baldwin fired. The file does contain some of his messages, however, as the LA Times notes, including a back-and-forth with Hutchins’ husband Matthew regarding the sheriff’s investigation: “The Santa Fe Sheriffs office may lack both the skill and the will to properly investigate the sabotage angle,” he wrote. “I’m told their agenda is to write it off as an accident and throw it to the civil courts. And yet, the more information that is presented to me about certain anomalies on that day, the more open minded I become.”

Santa Fe County election results ready for certification

The Board of Santa Fe County Commissioners—acting in its role as the County Canvassing Board, on Friday unanimously approved Santa Fe County’s Nov. 8 general election results. The board’s approval followed a post-election canvassing process by the county clerk’s office. County Clerk Katharine Clark told commissioners the election had been successful, with Santa Fe County posting the first results of the night. “The results you see on election night are the unofficial results,” Clark said in a statement, “now that we have completed our canvass, these results are official and ready to be certified.” The results will now be canvassed at the state level, followed by an independent audit process. Clark thanked her office’s temporary and permanent staff for their work this year. “The canvassing process can be grueling,” she said, “but it was easy and efficient this year.” Commissioner Anna Hansen commended Clark for “running a good election and getting the results in on time, so early. I was pleased to be able to check my computer at home and see the results. That was fantastic, and I think everything went really well in Santa Fe County.” Commissioner Hank Hughes reiterated the praise. “I’m pleased that all the care and diligence that goes into making our elections secure and fair and accurate.” In response to Hughes’ inquiry about whether there had been disruptions or problems on election day, Clark said news coverage about potential disruptions had created “some level of self-fulfilling prophecy,” and “we did see voters who seemed particularly…misinformed…about how voting works and we did need to train all of our poll workers on de-escalation.” As SFR reported on election day, Santa Fe County workers also received active shooter training in advance of the election.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Nov. 18New cases: 855; 639,727 total cases. Deaths: three; Santa Fe County has had 366 total deaths; there have been 8,695 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 196; Patients on ventilators: eight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Nov. 17 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, shows improvement, with only four counties categorized “orange”—high risk—for COVID-19, versus eight last week. They are: Bernalillo, Sandoval, San Juan and Valencia counties. Both Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties, which were orange last week are among the “green,” counties, signifying lower risk. Nine New Mexico counties are “yellow,” or medium. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

New Mexico House Republicans chose new leadership over the weekend, electing Rep. Ryan Lane of Aztec to replace Rep. Jim Townsend from Artesia, who didn’t seek the position again. Republicans also replaced the rest of the minority caucus: Rep. Jason Harper of Rio Rancho will be minority whip and Rep. Gail Armstrong from Magdalena was elected as minority caucus chairwoman. But will Republicans replace state Chairman Steve Pearce when they meet next week, following the GOP’s lackluster showing in the Nov. 8 election? That’s the question panelists debate on the most recent episode of New Mexico In Focus. Guests include: public health consultant Michael Bird; Merritt Allen of Vox Optima Public Relations; and lawyer and public safety consultant Edmund Perea.

Running for community

The Washington Post includes Verna Volker (Diné) in a story on Native Americans who “focus on family amid Thanksgiving’s dark history.” Volker lives in Minneapolis now but grew up on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and often flies home for the holiday, including last year when the Thanksgiving came just a few days after her mother’s death. “Even in our grieving, we were together and we were laughing,” Volker said of the gathering of her family in the wake of the loss. Their Thanksgiving meal ranges from the traditional fare to cuisine “specific to Navajo culture, such as mutton stew and hominy stew.” Volker tells the Post she wants to change the narrative when it comes to Native Americans: “There’s so much negativity on our people,” she says. She talks in greater depth on that topic to Bustle magazine, specifically about her organization Native Women Running, and her quest to increase representation for Indigenous athletes. “I started Native Women Running because I didn’t see myself in running, which is such a white space centered around the blond, fit, fast girl,” Volker says. “But for me, it’s every body type and every group of people, specifically Native women representing their tribes and sharing their journeys, no matter what level they’re at.” Since the NWR Instagram page debuted in 2018, its community has grown to 30,000 “with sponsored teams at top races like the Boston Marathon and annual charitable runs that have raised more than $150,000 to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis.”

Female bonding in Santa Fe

El Paso Times reporter María Cortés Gonzáles offers five tips for enjoying a “girls trip” to Santa Fe, where she recently visited with a friend: “For her, it was an opportunity to relax and treat herself to some shopping and spa time. For me, it was a chance to recharge and do things that my husband, whom I love dearly, wouldn’t want to ever do,” Gonzáles writes. First up, the duo stayed at The Lodge where they received two complimentary drinks each: “On our first night, it felt good to just sit down after a five-hour drive and chill by the fireplace with a sangria in hand. The hotel has a cozy, Southwestern feel and was relatively quiet during our stay.” For the requisite spa experience, they tried out the Santa Fe Salt Cave and then had massages at Downtown Day Spa. Gonzáles says because she was new to massages and “generally…a prude,” she opted for a 30-minute massage and appreciated the therapist wasn’t chatty. On the food front, the story gives props to The PantryRooftop Pizzeria and El Farol. For the most part, in other words, Gonzáles had a slightly off-the-beaten path visit (in terms of not recommending the exact same restaurants and spas that usually receive national attention). She and her friend, however, did end up at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, where “my friend was so inspired, we stopped at a Tuesday Morning shop afterward to get some crafting supplies.”

Pre-holiday warm-up

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 46 degrees and north wind around 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. On the traffic front, Santa Fe County will begin a re-paving project for the county portions of Agua Fría Street, Henry Lynch Road, Lopez Lane, and Caja del Oro Grant Road, so expect delays and detours.

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