Owner of stolen truck shoots alleged thief during scuffle

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two people were arrested after a shooting over a stolen truck Friday.

Joshua Ortega, 22, is facing charges for allegedly stealing a truck and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but he’s not the only one charged.

According to a criminal complaint, Ortega is accused of stealing a truck from outside an Outback Steakhouse, after taking an employee’s keys and another employee’s cell phone.

The owner of that truck used the cell phone to track the vehicle to a neighborhood near Paradise and Eagle Ranch Thursday. He spotted his truck and called police, but the truck was driven away before they arrived.

Then Friday morning the owner saw the truck again. That’s when the truck’s owner, Christopher Martinez, told officers he took out his gun and demanded Ortega give the truck back.

There was a scuffle, and Martinez told police he feared for his life, so he shot Ortega. He was hit in the arm but was not seriously injured.

APD says it’s never a good idea to confront a suspect.

“Dispatch is trained to tell that person to disengage. A lot of people don’t want to, they get very emotional about their property. Your property isn’t worth your life,” said APD Spokesperson Officer Simon Drobik.

Martinez says Ortega took off in the truck. Ortega then drove to a nearby doctor’s office on Golf Course seeking help.

Saturday morning in court it was revealed that Ortega has been arrested numerous times this year alone for car theft.

“This is his fourth auto theft case in 2016 alone, as well as the pending shoplifting case. We do find Mr. Ortega is a possible danger to the community as well as a possible flight risk,” said a court background official.

Ortega’s most previous arrest was in June, not even a month before this incident. Officer Drobik says it isn’t surprising he’s been arrested several times.

Drobik said, “When you talk to our auto theft guys, they know these guys over and over. He should still be in jail, but he’s not. We keep catching them, they keep getting released.”

The owner of the truck and shooter, Christopher Martinez, was also arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault.

According to the jail’s website, Martinez was released from custody Saturday. It’s unclear why Martinez was not in court Saturday morning. A search of the court records website does not show any criminal history for him.

Ortega was held on a $12,500 cash or surety bond.

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