ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A masked man was fatally shot by an Albuquerque police officer Jan. 4 moments after the suspect stole a safe from the Albuquerque Catholic Center, pulled a gun on a security guard and possibly fired shots at the officer in an apparent attempt to get away, according to the Albuquerque Police Department.
An initial investigation into the shooting determined that at 10:36 p.m., Albuquerque police were called to the Catholic Center for a possible robbery or burglary in progress. When one of the first responding officers arrived, he confronted a masked man carrying a safe.
According to police reports, when the masked man saw the officer, he dropped the safe and pulled a gun. Initial reports say the suspect fired at the officer. The officer returned fire at least twice, striking the man, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.
After the shooting, Albuquerque police investigators made contact with a security guard who said he had been confronted inside the building by a masked man. The suspect demanded money, restrained and assaulted the guard before taking a safe and leaving the building. Moments later, the shooting occurred. The guard suffered minor injuries.
The gun and the safe were found next to the suspect. The Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department searched the area Jan. 5 for any other possible suspects. No one has been taken into custody.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and is being conducted by a multi-jurisdictional team with representatives from the state police, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. The City’s Independent Review Officer was on scene reviewing the investigation. The officer will be placed on leave pending the investigation.
Investigators are still trying to confirm the man’s identity.
The archdiocesan office was closed Jan. 5 but reopened the next day while a police investigation was still ongoing and 24-hour security was in place.
In a Jan. 6 statement, Santa Fe Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan offered his “prayers and gratitude to the security guard, his family and the civil authorities during this traumatic time.”
Copyright © 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops