Morning Word

FBI Investigated Accused Oñate Protest Shooter for Threatening Tweets

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham contracts COVID-19 for third time

FBI investigated Oñate shooting suspect for Twitter threats

The FBI previously investigated Oñate shooting defendant Ryan Martinez, 23, according to a letter filed as part of prosecutors’ motion to keep Martinez behind bars until his trial. Martinez has been charged with attempted murder in the first degree and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in a shooting Sept. 28 outside the Rio Arriba County complex. Martinez appeared yesterday via video in a front of Rio Arriba Magistrate Court Judge Alexandra Naranjo, who transferred the case to District Court, where prosecutors’ motion for pretrial detention will be decided, though Naranjo denied a request from Martinez’s lawyer to release him in the meantime. “The danger to the community cannot be overstated,” Deputy District Attorney Norman Wheeler writes in his motion seeking Martinez’s detainment, noting the suspect “came 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.” As a resident of Sandia Park, Martinez drove nearly an hour a half to get to the protest, and thus “purposefully sought out this event to attend outside of his local community.” The motion also notes reports from law enforcement that the bullet Martinez filed that struck Washington state climate change activist and artist Jacob Johns (Hopi and Akimel O’odham) “entered the left chest, collapsed a lung, struck the spleen, struck the liver and stomach causing life threatening infection risk.” (A GoFundMe for Johns, who at last report had come through his first surgery, has raised more than $200,000 thus far). After shooting Johns—who stood in a crowd including children—from a distance of “not 10 feet,” Martinez pointed his gun at another woman and then sped away south toward Santa Fe at speeds in excess of 100 mph “further endangering drivers and pedestrians” before he was stopped by the Pojoaque Police.

In addition, prosecutors cite evidence the FBI previously investigated Martinez, who attended last week’s rally wearing a Trump-era MAGA hat—for two 2018 tweets he posted on the site formerly known as Twitter that read: “Time to end the fed and put a bullet in some people’s head once and for all. #1776 @federalreserve” and “Boy does it get me mad you control my fucking money and you have a building in MY capital. Change is coming real soon @federal reserve.” The letter to the state Public Safety Department from the FBI says agents interviewed Martinez on Jan. 24, 2020, who “admitted to making the threatening posts on Twitter and stated he was venting frustration about the Federal Reserve.” Agents “cautioned” Martinez “about making threats in the future” and “no specific or immediate threat to life was identified.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham contracts third COVID-19 infection

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Sunday tested positive for COVID-19—her third time with the coronavirus since its appearance in the state March 11, 2020—and is experiencing “some minimal symptoms and will continue working virtually throughout this week,” according to a news release from her office yesterday. Lujan Grisham tested positive for the first time last August and then tested positive a second time last November, shortly before Thanksgiving, following a trip to Egypt, where she represented New Mexico and the United States at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference. The governor recently returned to New Mexico from a trip to Taiwan where she spoke at US Business Day. The governor’s communications director, Maddy Hayden, tells SFR via email the governor is taking the antiviral treatment Paxlovid, but has not yet received the newly approved vaccine as it wasn’t yet available, Hayden said, before the governor left for Taiwan. She “intends to receive the new vaccine as soon as possible following her current illness,” Hayden writes.

State health and hospital officials last month urged residents to get the newly approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which have been updated to include a monovalent (single) component that corresponds to the Omicron variant XBB.1.5. The new vaccines arrived as New Mexico and the US began reporting rising cases and hospitalizations. The state’s most recent case report from Sept. 18—epidemiology reports update the third Tuesday of each month—showed at that time 875 new cases in the seven days prior, a 36% increase from the seven-day count in the August report (case counts, given the prevalence of non-reported home testing, are mostly just indicative of the general increase). Officials say they are more interested in monitoring hospitalizations, which—though higher—remain well below the numbers the state saw during the pandemic’s peak “and we’d really like to see it stay that way through the winter,” state Health Director Dr. Miranda Durham said during last month’s news conference. A spokeswoman for Presbyterian Health tells SFR that John Adams, hospital chief executive at Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center, reports the facility does not “currently have any COVID patients in the hospital. They have had few inpatients with COVID and, while they are seeing some COVID patients in the Emergency Department and outpatient clinics, that has been fairly stable as well.” SFR was unable to reach a spokesman at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Facility prior to deadline for an update.

Educator vacancy report shows largest increase in special ed

A newly published report on educator vacancies in New Mexico shows a slight increase after the state had experienced large decreases. The New Mexico State University’s Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center (the SOAR Center) reports a 9% increase in teacher vacancies—751 versus the 690 vacancies in last year’s report. According to this year’s report, the largest need was for special education teachers, followed by elementary teachers; special education and elementary education teachers also comprised the largest areas of need last year. In May, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, via executive order, created a State Office of Special Education. Yesterday, the state Public Education Department announced the hiring of Margaret Cage as the new office’s new director. Cage holds a bachelor’s degree of science in pre-law from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana; a certification in special education, a master of educational leadership, and a doctorate of executive educational leadership from the University of Holy Cross in New Orleans, Louisiana, according to a news release. “We conducted an extensive nationwide search for the best person to do this critical work at the PED, and Dr. Cage is the leader everyone involved was most excited about,” PED Secretary Arsenio Romero said in a statement. “She brings enthusiasm, experience, and the will to get the work done. I am so excited she is here and ready to get to work.” An NMSU story on the new educator vacancy rate notes that SOAR Center Director Rachel Boren says the largest change from 2022 to 2023 was the number of special education teacher vacancies, which increased by 75 openings compared to last year.

City appoints interim clerk

In a brief special Santa Fe City Council meeting yesterday, Mayor Alan Webber and four city councilors—Michael Garcia, Jamie Cassutt, Chris Rivera and Carol Romero-Wirth—appointed Geralyn Cardenas as interim city clerk following Kristine Bustos-Mihelcic’s departure on Friday. Cardenas has been serving as the office’s deputy clerk for several years; the clerk’s position includes: election duties; administering and processing liens; signing bills and ordinances; approving certain bonds; overseeing the issuance and transfer of liquor licenses within the city; and administering the Office of City Clerk, including the Office of Community Engagement. Portions of the sound in the city’s recording of the meeting do not work, but the Santa Fe New Mexican reports City Manager John Blair said the city would be reviewing the job description to determine if it requires updating before posting it publicly. In the meantime, Webber and councilors thanked Cardenas for stepping into the role. “We’re very grateful,” Webber said. “It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of responsibility. [Cardenas] has been filling the assistant role and knows the ropes and is a great person to take on this chore,” he noted, “but it is a chore.” Following the unanimous vote approving Cardenas as interim clerk, a formal swearing-in will also be scheduled.

Listen up

New Mexico water law isn’t rocket science, but it can be complicated enough to require expert knowledge to truly comprehend. Enter John Fleck, a former Albuquerque Journal science-writer turned author, professor and UNM Utton Transboundary Resource Center writer-in-residence. Fleck provides a Water 101 on how the West secures its water on the second and most recent episode of the University of New Mexico’s new It’s (Probably) Not Rocket Science podcast, which breaks down complex research topics from its faculty, researchers and creatives to present to a broader audience.

Gloom wine

If you missed the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Festival debut of Gruet’s new Zozobra Centennial bottle, worry not: According to a news release yesterday, the new bottle will be available exclusively at Gruet New Mexico tasting rooms in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and online throughout the Centennial year, with Gruet as the official centennial sparkling wine sponsor leading into next year’s 100th burning of Zozobra. Zozobra Event Chair Ray Sandoval tells SFR the genesis for the partnership and commemorative wine came from longtime Zozobra volunteer Dan Clavio during one of the gatherings of the Centennial planning committee, which formed in March, 2022. “Since sparkling wine is a classic way to celebrate a special occasion such as Zozobra’s 100th, we thought that a centennial bubbly would be a great addition to our gala year, especially since New Mexico has a high-quality, homegrown producer in Gruet,” Sandoval said via email. “Zozobra and Gruet are a perfect match, both rooted in New Mexico and both celebrating cherished cultural traditions. Visionaries like Will Shuster, Zozobra’s creator, and Gilbert Gruet, the founder of Gruet Winery, epitomize the adventurous spirit that has animated New Mexico for centuries, and their mutual heritage lives on to inspire other creative souls.” Gruet Winery Regional Manager Regina Wilson tells SFR via email the company is equally excited about the partnership: “Zozobra is such an iconic and treasured New Mexico event and we are thrilled to help celebrate the centennial burn all year!” Wilson writes. “We are also donating a portion of the proceeds to help continue the work Kiwanis and Zozobra do for the children of New Mexico.” As for the wine itself, she writes, it’s “a cuvée of mostly Chardonnay and is a crisp, lively, and fun bubbly to drink with or without food.”

Visiting “Little” Vegas

In a syndicated travel story for Tribune News Service (we’re linking to its recent appearance in The Virginian-Pilot), Mary Ann Anderson visits New Mexico’s “little” Las Vegas to partake in its many assets, starting with celestial wonders. “In this remote corner of New Mexico, dark sky ordinances are in place to ensure stargazers, even if they’re standing in the middle of this small town with its population of 13,000, have little light pollution to better enjoy the exquisiteness of clear nights and constellations and galaxies sparkling in the night sky like silvered flakes of glitter,” Anderson writes. But Vegas isn’t just for those with a penchant for cosmology. What it lacks in “slot machines, massive buffets and neon lights,” Anderson notes, our Vegas makes up for in “small town charm,” such as its WPA murals, Victorian homes and Carnegie Library. Nearby attractions include Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge; Montezuma Hot Springs; and United World College’s Dwan Light Sanctuary, to name a few. As for eating, Anderson notes “Las Vegas is all about the good eats,” and cites The Skillet, Charlie’s Spic and Span Bakery and Café and Dick’s Pub and Restaurant as must tries. Bottom line: “Sun-drenched, warm Las Vegas holds a kaleidoscope of wonders with its unexpected Wild West past and profusion of fabulous restaurants, antiques and art galleries.”

Hoodie weather

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 66 degrees and south wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the morning.

Thanks for reading! The Word hopes you all enjoy Fat Bear Week as much as she will (she’s partial to Grazer, seen here defending her cubs).

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