A suspect is in custody after a shooting broke out at a protest in New Mexico over the installation of a statue of a conquistador, leaving at least one person in the hospital, authorities said Thursday.
The gunman, reportedly seen earlier in the day sporting a red “Make America Great Again” hat was collared by sheriff’s deputies shortly after fleeing the scene in a white Tesla, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
The newspaper reported that he identified himself to a Journal photographer on the scene as Ryan Martinez prior to the shooting, and that he allegedly shot a Native American man following a “scuffle.”
The Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office also identified the suspect as a Ryan Martinez, 23, according to local station KRQE. A state police spokesperson did not immediately return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
The injured man, who authorities said suffered a gunshot wound to the “upper torso area near the chest,” was taken away from the scene in an ambulance and was being treated at a local hospital.
Roughly five dozen people were in the area for the Española rally, according to the Journal, gathering to weigh in on a controversial statue of the conquistador Juan de Oñate. The statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s first colonial governor and the man who instigated a massacre of hundreds of Native Americans in 1599, was removed and placed in storage in 2020. It was meant to be reinstalled this week, until a successful push by activists convinced local officials to delay the move.
The Thursday rally was billed as a celebration by those activists, the Journal reported.
The shooting occurred after an altercation broke out among the protesters and counter-protesters, according to the Journal. Prior to the disturbance, The man who identified himself as Martinez was photographed by the newspaper’s photographer in a “Make America Great Again” hat and a distinct teal hoodie.
In a subsequent image captured mid-shooting, a man who appears to be Martinez in the same teal hoodie—but with no hat—can be seen pointing a handgun, with at least one person in the foreground seen scrambling for cover.
In the description of a Facebook profile that matched details of Martinez’s identity, the user wrote, “Fuck The Chinese Communist Party and Fuck Joe Biden.TRUMP WON. (pre law major).” The profile’s most recent post, made Tuesday, referenced the reinstallation of the Oñate statue.
It was not the first time that a statue of the conquistador precipitated a shooting in New Mexico. One person was wounded after being shot during a protest in Albuquerque’s Old Town in June 2020. The gunman, Stephen Baca, argued he’d shot the victim in self-defense, and pleaded to lesser charges in a deal that saw his felony shooting charge dismissed.