Audio: Suspect in killing spree claims stepdad shot mother, brother

RIO ARRIBA COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Audio released by New Mexico State Police captures Damian Herrera, suspected of killing five people in northern New Mexico, painting a wildly different picture of what happened on a night in mid-June.

According to a criminal complaint, Herrera’s sister witnessed him shoot and kill his stepdad Max Trujillo, mother Brenda Gallegos and brother Brendon Herrera, at their La Madera home after an argument with Trujillo over a truck.

Herrera is then accused of leaving that scene in the truck and later confronting Michael Kyte, shooting and killing him near Taos. From there he reportedly stole Kyte’s truck and went to a gas station in Abiquiu, where he shot and killed Manuel Serrano.

He was finally captured after a chase with Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s deputies which ended in him crashing Kyte’s truck. Deputies said Herrera charged at them after the crash, ensuing a scuffle during which Herrera tried to take one of their guns.

Newly released audio from State Police captures Herrera being interviewed by an investigator after he was arrested. His version of the events is vastly different than what police believe happened based on witnesses, like his sister, and other evidence.

“I’m a good person, man,” Herrera told the officer.

Several times, he makes statements about his character and that he’s not into violence.

“So, what happened?” the officer asked.

“They got into it over gasoline,” Herrera said, “And my stepdad f***ing tried chasing down me with the f***ing gun.”

Herrera says he was at his parents house to help them collect wood for the winter. He claims he was attacked by his stepdad at his parents’ home over spilled gasoline and that during the fight, his brother and mother were hit by rounds. But the story isn’t consistent.

“So, then he starts chasing you with the gun?” the officer asked.

“He didn’t chase me, he fired at me,” Herrera said. “My brother went to break us up. He f***ing shot my brother. I wrestled with him for the gun. My mom got in the middle of it. He shot her. I had to shoot him, dude.”

Herrera says after leaving La Madera, he ran into Kyte and and asked him for gas, hitching a ride to Kyte’s house.

“I don’t know what the f*** his deal was. He was f***ing try to push me out of his truck as soon as we got to his house,” he said. “And I was just defending myself, dude. I don’t know what it is. I’m never into violence, dude. Ask anybody that knows me.”

Herrera never mentions shooting Serrano in Abiquiu.

“Anything else you think I should know?” the officer asked.

“I told you the truth. That’s all I can say,” he replied.

But the officer comes back later, asking about what happened in Abiquiu.

“I was cleaning the windows and he f***ing… I don’t even know what the f*** he started telling me in Spanish, dude, and I was just like, ‘Yo, calm down’ and he just f***ing started rushing me and that’s all that f***ing happened,” he said.

“How many rounds were fired there?”

“Two?” Herrera responded.

In the audio recordings, Herrera also complains about how he was aggressively arrested.

“I don’t know if they were chasing me or what was going on so I pulled off the road little bit…got out, put my hands up,” he said. “They f***ing tackled me and pushed my head into the asphalt…they f***ing tased me, man.”

Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s deputies say, however, he didn’t give up easily.

Herrera has yet to enter a plea for the murder charges against him.

Listen to the full audio below. (Warning: Audio contains language some might find offensive.) 

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