ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Three teens accused of beating two homeless men to death will be tried as adults. Gilbert Tafoya, 15, Nathaniel Carrillo, 16, and Alex Rios, 18, face murder charges.
According to a criminal complaint, the teens admitted to using metal poles and cinder blocks to attack three homeless men while they slept. One man escaped.
One of the teens told police the trio has beaten more than 50 other homeless people around the city in just a few months. They are crimes many say went unnoticed and likely unreported.
KRQE News 13 asked everyone from the mayor to Albuquerque Police to the people living on Duke City streets if these kinds of crimes go without being brought to light. They all say yes and the hope now is to change that.
“I’ve seen a lot of things happen,” Manuel Garcia said.
Garcia, like so many of the city’s homeless, has been a victim of crime.
“They just pick on the vulnerable that they think they can bully or scare (the homeless),” Garcia said.
A shocked city took notice after this weekend’s news.
“To have a tragedy like this happen is beyond belief,” Mayor Richard Berry said.
What’s more, police say the teens have targeted roughly 50 others the past few months.
“As evident by this weekend, we have a lot more work to do,” Berry said.
More work and more questions. One of the biggest – are homeless people not reporting crimes against them?
“If something is happening with me personally, I handle it myself,” Garcia said. “I’d rather not call police officers.”
News 13 asked APD Commander Donovan Olvera why he thinks this is the case.
“It just depends,” he said.
Olvera has spent more than 15 years with the department’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team.
“If the individual has a criminal history themselves, they may not be comfortable reporting the crime,” Olvera said.
Like Garcia, he said some would just rather handle situations on their own.
“Or, they just don’t know who the suspect is and don’t feel that they have enough to report it.”
Jeremy Reynalds, founder of the homeless shelter Joy Junction, has his own ideas
“If a homeless person goes to report a crime, maybe one has a fear that the officer or the agency to which he reports the crime goes, ‘I don’t believe him’,” Reynalds said.
The mayor spent the morning meeting with community leaders, including those who run local shelters. He said they have a lot of goals and opening up communication between the homeless and police is on the top of the list.
“This isn’t going to start and stop today,” Berry said.
KRQE News 13 also wanted to know if any of the local shelters have heard about other victims, potentially at the hands of those teens. Joy Junction said they hadn’t heard of anything. The same goes for the Albuquerque Rescue Mission.
Police urge any victim of any crime to always report it. They say they’ll reach out to the homeless on the street to see if they can find more victims.