Morning Word

SFPD Names Officers Involved in March 10 Shooting

Thousands walk to Chimayó as holiday weekend begins

SFPD ID officers from shooting

The Santa Fe Police Department yesterday reported the names of the police officers involved in a shooting earlier this month on Verede de Encanto. That shooting followed the pursuit of Rick Robert Chavez, 35, whom police were trying to arrest on several active warrants for crimes ranging from drug possession to assault on a police officer. Chavez, his alleged co-conspirator George Anthony Theragood Jr., age 42, and a police officer were all struck by gunfire, and Chavez subsequently died two days later. The named officers who discharged their weapons were: Detective Manuel Romero; Senior Police Officer Luis Ruiz; and Police Officer II Charles Ovalle, all of whom were placed on leave following the March 10 incident, per SFPD protocol, and all of whom have been since “evaluated and cleared to return to duty by a mental health professional,” a news release says. Romero and Ruiz have returned to duty; Ovalle, who was injured during the incident, remains on leave. New Mexico State Police responded to the scene and is conducting the investigation into the officer-involved shooting and will provide any updates, SFPD says.

US Sen. Heinrich, Dems introduce abortion bill

US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, this week joined other Democrats in the Senate to introduce the Abortion Care Capacity Enhancement and Support Services (ACCESS) Act, which would create a federal program to award grants to hospitals, clinics and nonprofits in states where abortion remains legal and that have experienced the largest increase of out-of-state patients seeking reproductive health care since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the proportion of abortions provided to patients traveling from out of state into New Mexico increased from 38% in 2020 to 74% in 2023. The ACCESS program would provide funds for expansion of facilities; purchase of medical supplies and equipment; and administration of telehealth services, among other resources. “While we worked hard to protect reproductive rights and abortion access in New Mexico, radical politicians in other states passed laws to punish women and their doctors. We won’t let that happen in New Mexico,” Heinrich said in a statement. “The ACCESS Act will help deliver the resources medical providers need to continue providing reproductive health care throughout our state and nationwide. This legislation will ensure that New Mexicans aren’t left to pay the price for the Dobbs decision and radical politicians in other states.”

NMSU appoints interim president

After relaunching earlier this month its search for a new president, the New Mexico State University regents yesterday announced the appointment of NMSU community college systems’ chancellor, Mónica Torres, as interim president. Torres will take on the new role May 1, succeeding Interim President Jay Gogue, who has served in that role since April 2023 and whose departure was planned. The school has been without permanent leadership since Chancellor Dan Arvizu’s departure in the wake of a series of high-profile issues with the school’s basketball team, and his own marriage. “Dr. Torres is an accomplished and visionary leader with a deep commitment to student success and a wealth of institutional knowledge of the NMSU system,” Regents Chair Ammu Devasthali said yesterday in a message to the NMSU community following a special Regents meeting. “We’re already working to ensure a smooth leadership transition for our community colleges, and will provide more details about that soon.” Prior to serving as chancellor of NMSU’s community college system, Torres was Doña Ana Community College’s president. “I appreciate the opportunity,” Torres said of the interim appointment. “As you know, I have a long history with the New Mexico State University system. I am committed to the land-grant mission…I love that what we do as a system extends throughout the state of New Mexico, serving New Mexicans in rural and urban areas.”

Former House leader faces federal indictments

ICYMI, a federal grand jury this week indicted former state House majority leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, an Albuquerque Democrat, on 35 charges related to a scheme to defraud the government. According to a news release from the US Attorney’s New Mexico District office, Stapleton and Joseph Johnson, 72, of Chantilly, Virginia, a long-time friend of Stapleton’s who has also been indicted, used Stapleton’s position as as director of the Perkins Project and Career and Technical Education coordinator at Albuquerque Public Schools to direct approximately 40% of APS’ non-personnel CTE funding to Johnson’s company, Robotics Management Learning Systems. Stapleton then wrote herself checks from Robotics, clearing more than $1.1 million. Both Stapleton and Johnson have their initial appearances in federal court scheduled for April 9. “New Mexicans deserve public systems that serve them and public servants who are honest, effective, and worthy of our trust,” US Attorney Alexander MM Uballez says in a statement. “Fraud against the government is just a fancy way to say that someone is stealing your hard-earned tax dollars. Public corruption is a fancy way of saying that they abuse your trust to do so. When public officials steal from our pockets and from our children, we will restore your faith in our public systems through vigorous investigation and zealous prosecution.” If convicted, both Stapleton and Johnson face 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release, the news release says. Stapleton also faces state charges in a pending trial; a status conference is scheduled for April 23.

Listen up

Saturday morning might seem too soon to prepare for a book club, but the Rebel Readers Book Club isn’t your everyday gathering. Santa Fe Pubic Library Reference Librarian Megan Atencio tells SFR she knew she wanted to start a book club when she began working at the library, but she didn’t want to read the same books as everyone else. Someone suggested a themed book club in which participants choose their own books accordingly, and the rest is history. The group has been meeting for a little more than a year the last Saturday every other month, and the next meeting is online at 10:30 am Saturday, March 30. This month’s theme is “inspired by mythology” (with a few suggestions if you actually want to read a new book before Saturday). Registration required here.

Good Friday 101

Lafayette College Professor of Religious Studies Brett Hendrickson writes a story for the nonprofit news site The Conversation on the annual Good Friday pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó, in which Hendrickson took part in 2015 as part of research for his book The Healing Power of the Santuario de Chimayó: America’s Miraculous Church. “The santuario’s story,” he writes, “is not merely a curiosity but also a significant part of the shifting identity of the US Catholic Church, which is on the verge of becoming majority-Latino.” The essay provides background on the santuario’s miracle dirt, along with the growth of the pilgrimage itself. While Hispanics traveled to the santuario from other parts of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado throughout the 19th century, Hendrickson writes, “the massive walking pilgrimage during Holy Week, culminating on Good Friday, did not begin until after World War II,” largely organized by survivors of the 1942 Bataan Death March “to commemorate their suffering and to mourn their lost comrades.” These days, officials estimate 300,000 people make the pilgrimage annually, starting last night and through Easter Sunday. Find more information—including maps and safety tips—here. Santa Fe County also is offering free rides to residents through Easter (around town to deter DWI, not to the santuario). City offices and facilities all close at noon today. The Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station will be open today and tomorrow, but closed on Sunday for Easter. If you’re looking for a different way to celebrate Good Friday, we’d suggest visiting the Railyard Park today or tomorrow (10 am to 4 pm) to see the goats and sheep for Graze Days, but you’ll find lots of other suggestions in this week’s SFR Picks.

Weaving change

“Abstract weaving is having a moment,” Artsy proclaims, citing “a swath of museum exhibitions across the US” this spring, including one spotlighting Institute of American Indian Arts alum Melissa Cody (Diné). She will have her first major solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, Melissa Cody: Webbed Skies, from April 4 through Sept. 9 (the exhibition previously showed at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand), and another, Power Up, at New York’s Garth Greenan Gallery April 25-June 15. “We’ve really had to fight a long, hard battle to be considered fine art,” Cody tells Artsy. “Lack of cultural knowledge and representation within the current class of art museum curators” can also be a challenge, the story notes, but “there’s been a huge push,” she says, for more consultation with tribes, a significant change from the museum environment that existed when Cody graduated in 2007 from IAIA’s museum studies program. “There’s also been a huge push for them to understand the work and take into consideration tribal histories,” she says. The story includes examples of her work, which “address both the past and present existences of her Indigenous community.”

A feather for each wind that blows

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny weekend ahead, with high temperatures in the low 60s and lots of wind, with gusts as high as 30 mph today, 35 mph tomorrow and up to 40 mph on Sunday. Another storm system could bring rain Sunday night into Monday morning.

Thanks for reading! The Who’s Tommy on Broadway sounds odd, but The Word enjoyed Pete Townshend and the cast’s performance this week on Jimmy Fallon. This newsletter returns Tuesday, April 2.

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