SANTA FE (KRQE) – Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputy, Jeremy Martin was a 29-year-old father of three, who’d spent two and a half years working for the Sheriff’s department. KRQE News 13 learned more about Martin’s life from some of the people who knew him best.
Martin was originally from the Phoenix area, and in the past few years he’d made a life in Santa Fe. A family friend told News 13, Martin was very much a family man.
“It’s just a tragedy, really,” said Lupe Leal, a family friend of the Martins.
News that Deputy Martin was allegedly shot and killed by fellow deputy Tai Chan, has left Martin’s friends and family stunned.
“I’m lost, I’m lost for words, thoughts,” said Sheriff Robert Garcia, tearing up at a press conference Tuesday morning.
“Just to know he’s not going to be around, it’s just, heartbreaking,” said Leal.
Leal is a close family friend. Martin’s wife baby-sits her kids daily. When Leal’s husband went to drop off their kids Tuesday morning at Martin’s house, he hadn’t yet heard the news.
“It’s devastating,” said Leal. “They were always together.”
Leal tells News 13 Martin was a family man. He and his wife home-schooled their three young children, a girl and two boys. He and his wife were also expecting. Leal said the Martin family treated her kids like family, too.
“He was always you know, taking the kids out for the weekend, they’d go fishing, they bought a boat so they’d go out boating,” Leal recalled. “They’d take them to the annual pancake breakfast every year for Fourth of July, she (Jeremy’s wife) would make special outfits so they were all matching, my kids included.”
The 29-year-old deputy worked on patrol for the Sheriff’s Office nearly three years.
Leal said it comforted her knowing Martin was around.
“They put their lives at risk every day just being out there, and you always think the accident is going to happen from something outside, some outside factor,” said Leal.
She said Martin’s wife is in shock.
“Their lives are changed completely, from this day forward,” said Leal. “It’s sad, it’s very, very sad.”
Adding to the grief over Martin’s death, is who is accused of killing him – 27-year-old Chan, a deputy in the investigations bureau who had been with the department for three years.
“It just makes it a little bit more horrific that something like that could happen,” said Leal. “We will all miss Jeremy.”
The Sheriff’s Office closed Tuesday, and grief counseling is available for anyone within the department.
“In my 34-year career, I would never think and hope I would never receive that kind of phone call,” Sheriff Garcia said.
News 13 has been told Chan is quiet. He grew up in Santa Fe and went to Santa Fe High School. News 13 is told Chan and Martin got along at work, and there were no known feuds between the two.
Community support is pouring in for the Sheriff’s Office on Facebook.
“Not an easy thing for anyone involved,” one woman said. “The sheriff department also needs prayer to help them get through this. They in fact have lost not one but possibly two fellow brothers.”
“Prayers for you all,” one man writes.
“Sorry for your loss,” posted another.
There is a benefit fund set up for the Martin family.