Morning Word

Mass Shooting in Farmington Kills Three, Wounds Six

State Supreme Court: PRC won’t rehear PNM/Avangrid merger proposal

Farmington mass shooter kills three, injures six

During a mass shooting yesterday in Farmington, police say an 18-year-old male used three different weapons—including an “automatic-style rifle”—to shoot and kill three citizens and wound six, including two police officers: one from the Farmington Police Department and one from the State Police (both with non-life-threatening injuries). The suspect was ultimately shot at least one time and killed by police. In a video statement, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe called yesterday “one of the most horrific and difficult days that Farmington has ever had as a community.” According to Hebbe, officers were dispatched just before 11 am to reports of shots being fired; they reported the suspect down at 11:05 am. “The event is difficult to understand,” he said, “how something like this happens—but we are doing the best that we can to piece through and talk to family members of the suspect; piece through what was going on; look at the evidence so we can figure out what the motivation was.” Hebbe says at this point the crime seems “purely random” with no schools, churches or individuals targeted. The suspect “roamed” up to a quarter of a mile and shot at least six houses and three cars “as the suspect randomly fired at whatever entered his head to shoot at,” he said. The Farmington Police, State Police and the San Juan Sheriff’s Department all responded to the scene. Hebbe said he would provide an update to media at 2 pm today. “I want to thank the officers and their families who responded and confronted this threat,” he said. “I send out my deepest condolences and I know the whole community does, to the victims.”

In a statement, Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett said the “act of violence” had left the community “reeling in anguish and disbelief. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this incomprehensible time of pain and loss.” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also issued a statement that she was “praying for the families of the victims, the wounded and the entire community of Farmington following this horrific tragedy. 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. This administration will not stop fighting the epidemic of gun violence from every angle possible.” And the state’s congressional delegation described themselves as “devastated by today’s mass shooting…Our hearts are with the families of the deceased and those injured.” The statement notes that while “Congress took major action to combat gun violence last year through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, today is a painful reminder that we must do more. We are committed to fighting for sensible gun safety measures that will keep New Mexicans safe.”

State Supreme Court nixes PNM/Avangrid re-hearing request

The state Supreme Court yesterday denied a motion filed by PNM and Avangrid last March that requested the court dismiss the two companies’ appeal of last year’s 2021 unanimous rejection by all five elected PRC members at the time of a proposed merger and send it back to the newly constituted and appointed three-member Public Regulation Commission instead—a motion the PRC supported. The court also denied motions by intervening parties, including the Office of the Attorney General and merger-opponent New Energy Economy, to supplement the record with new information, and scheduled oral arguments in the original appeal to start on Sept. 12. A PNM spokesman, in response to a request for comment from SFR, said the company “received the court’s order and we reviewing it.” In a statement, New Energy Economy Executive Director Mariel Nanasi described the court’s ruling as “a vindication of our rights as New Mexicans to protection from arbitrary legal reversals at the behest and under the influence of powerful corporations. The system of regulatory oversight intended to protect ordinary New Mexicans from utility overreach was threatened.”

SFPD: Crime up in 2023

Two homicides in the city last month brought the total number so far this year to three, according to a monthly crime update from Chief Paul Joye that is part of today’s 4 pm Public Safety Committee meeting. The most recent homicide occurred on April 30 and prompted Crime Stoppers to issue a $1,000 reward for information about the shooting death of 21-year-old Ramon Vigil in the Lowe’s parking lot. In addition to an increase in homicides last month compared to the month prior (as none occurred in March), the city also had a nearly 24% increase in burglaries; a 3% increase in assaults; and four arsons compared with just one in March. As part of this afternoon’s report, SFPD mapped all of the crimes across the city, with most of those crimes also viewable online via Google maps for: murders, arsons, robberies, burglaries, thefts of motor vehicles, thefts from motor vehicles and all 133 larcenies.The city has experienced an uptick in all categories of crimes this year compared to last—a nearly 14% increase in total crime—with the exception of robberies, where thus far there has been a nearly 48% decline.

Las Tusas fire 90% contained

In what fire officials expect will be the final update on the Las Tusas fire in San Miguel County, yesterday’s report said firefighters had brought containment of the blaze to 90%. The 978-acre fire began May 10 west of Sapello and approximately 12 miles north of Las Vegas, prompting evacuations for many residents who also fled last year’s Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire. Those evacuations were lifted over the weekend. Cooler temperatures and precipitation helped firefighters over the weekend, and “suppression repair is continuing as firefighters work to fully contain the fire” as “moisture and increased humidity are projected to linger throughout the week.” Officials say “fire traffic is still present near the fire and fire managers ask that the public be aware of fire vehicles entering the roads.” Command of the fire will be transitioned today from the Northern New Mexico Type 3 Incident Management Team back to the state Forestry Division.

Listen up

Due to the high interest in the state’s foster-care system and the beleaguered Children, Youth & Families Department, KUNM recently hosted two episodes of its call-in Let’s Talk New Mexico program to accommodate a plethora of listener feedback and questions. The first episode unpacks the problems in the state’s child welfare system; the second zeroes in on potential solutions. And on the most recent episode of New Mexico In Focus, the Line opinion panel also tackles the topic, and considers whether the new CYFD advisory council will be able to address the department’s systemic and chronic failures.

NM gone wild

National Geographic offers a guide to visiting New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness—the country’s first officially designated wilderness area circa 1924 (today, the US has more than 800). NatGeo tells Gila visitors they will encounter a lack of roads, facilities and cell service. In exchange, the “raw and rugged” environment provides “a wonderland of mountain ranges and sculpted canyons, meandering rivers and cascading rapids and isolated pools.” Not to mention the possibility of wildlife encounter: “You might startle an elk or a javelina or glimpse a black bear or a spotted owl, or listen to wolves howl.” The story outlines some hikes in the area, including the popular and moderate 15-mile out-and-back hike to Jordan Hot Springs via Little Bear Canyon, “which offers numerous scenic canyon views. Be warned, your feet will get wet—there are 15 river crossings. But a long soak in the hot springs is worth the trip.” The story also provides camping advice, along with recommendations for guided kayak or rafting trips, as well as guided horseback rides through the area, such as those offered by Joe Saenz (Chiricahua Apache Nation), owner Wolf Horse Outfitters; Zack Crockett’s Gila Backcountry Services and Becky Campbell, owner of Gila Hot Springs Ranch, who grew up in the area. By foot or horse is the only way to explore the area—the story’s accompanying photographs make the prospect that much more enticing.

Dancer Burgess looks back—and ahead

Online news magazine LGBTQ Nation interviews renowned dancer Dana Tai Soon Burgess—who grew up in Santa Fe—about “dance, art and identity,” both topics he mined in his 2022 memoir, Chino and the Dance of the Butterfly. Burgess’ tenure as the Smithsonian’s choreographer-in-residence ended last week with a performance by his company of “Transformations”—a dance inspired by the New Mexico-based Transcendental Painting Group—at the National Portrait Gallery. Burgess premiered the work May 6 at the University of New Mexico. The program included a discussion with Burgess, a UNM alumnus; costume designer Patricia Michaels and UNM Art Museum Director Arif Khan (watch the talk and performance here). Post Smithsonian, Burgess intends to expand his work with museums and has several new commissions. He credits his upbringing in Santa Fe with parents who were both visual artists for his interest in bridging dance and visual mediums: “All of the work I do with museums and with visual artists, art galleries, etc., has to do with my comfort level having grown up in a visual arts community,” he says.

Watch out for rainbows

The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance for precipitation today via scattered showers and thunderstorms after 3 pm. Otherwise, it should be mostly sunny, with a high temperature near 76 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. More widespread precipitation expected for the rest of the weekend.

Thanks for reading! The Word is unlikely to build her own outdoor shower (being extraordinarily unhandy), but she likes the idea of “DIY backyard summer heaven.”

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