RIO RANCHO, N.M. – A police officer in a suburb of Albuquerque was shot and killed during a traffic stop, the first time a Rio Rancho officer was fatally shot in the line of duty in the department’s 34-year history.
The officer, a military veteran who had been with the Rio Rancho Police Department for four years, was gunned down while pulling over a vehicle shortly after 8 p.m. Monday, police Capt. Paul Rogers said.
“It wasn’t the result of the officer looking for them specifically,” Rogers told Albuquerque news station KRQE-TV. “It appears as though it was circumstances that unfolded in front of the officer.”
The officer, whose identity was not released immediately, died at a hospital.
A person believed to be involved in the shooting was taken into custody in the Albuquerque area early Tuesday, but authorities are still searching for another suspect.
Bernalillo County sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Williamson said several agencies helped with the apprehension about 20 miles from where the officer was shot on a side road off a busy street.
Other details on the suspects were not immediately available.
At the shooting scene Tuesday, a maze of yellow crime-scene tape cordoned off the area between a library and post office. One resident left flowers, while another stopped and made the sign of the cross.
Flags flew at half-staff at police headquarters in the city, a usually sleepy bedroom community of nearly 90,000 people.
Elijah Ortiz y Pino, 15, told the Albuquerque Journal that he was turning a corner on his bicycle Monday night when he heard a siren and then four gunshots.
Ortiz y Pino said he saw an officer lying on his back in the roadway near the curb and a man was administering CPR.
It was not known who found the officer.
“Somebody called out ‘officer down' on the radio,” Rogers said.
The Rio Rancho Police Department was founded in 1981, and its last officer to die in the line of duty was killed in a car crash in October 2014 while responding to a domestic violence call.