ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The investigation continues into the carjacking and officer involved shooting Wednesday night. The carjacking victim and the suspect are dead, and an officer is injured.
It happened after a chase down Central Avenue and deputies say the suspect could be connected to a deadly carjacking just hours before.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and Albuquerque Police are working to identify the suspect who they say led police on the chase and fired shots at officers early Thursday morning.
Sheriff Manny Gonzales says it started around 7 p.m. Wednesday night when 64-year-old Santiago Romero was shot and killed at the AutoZone at Coors and Rio Bravo. The suspect took off with his Jeep. Romero’s boss says Romero had just purchased the Jeep for his daughter, as a graduation gift, and may have hesitated to hand it over.
Police were on the lookout for the Jeep when at about midnight, an APD officer spotted the vehicle and tried to stop it. The driver took off leading police on a chase near Central and Unser.
Officers tried to use a spike strip then a pit maneuver to stop the Jeep. That’s when they say the driver opened fire on them. They shot back.
An APD officer was hit in his vest but was not seriously injured. Officials say the body armor saved his life.
The suspect was found dead inside the Jeep. The vehicle had caught on fire after going over the spike strip. Officials have not said how he died or how many officers fired on him.
People who knew Romero said he was a selfless person, who would do anything to help someone out.
“The second I moved in, my truck broke down and he goes, ‘let me help you fix it, we got it, let’s do it together’, and ever since then him and his family have just been wonderful,” said Jamie Grimiss, who lives next door to the Romero family.
“Just a special guy. Loyal, hardworking, hardly ever missed work, just a great guy, and it’s a profound loss for us and our company family and for his family and he will truly be missed,” said Romero’s boss Kevin Avants.
Romero worked at Wood Moulding Specialties in Albuquerque for 24 years. He leaves behind three children and four grandchildren. A GoFundMe account has been set up for Romero’s family.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office is leading this investigation.