LANL employee shot during NM 502 road rage incident

-A A +A
By Tris DeRoma

Area law enforcement agencies continued to search Tuesday for the driver of a Jeep who reportedly shot at a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee in an apparent case of road rage about 6 p.m. Thursday, while he was driving home to Santa Fe on NM 502 near Pojoaque.

The man was found by Santa Fe Sheriff’s deputies in Pojoaque, bleeding from his head from a gunshot wound.

The alleged shooter was driving a white Jeep Wrangler with a blue Marine Corps license plate. The Jeep had an after-market metal bumper, according to reports.

The victim, a 40-year male, was able to call 911 from the Phillips 66 gas station at 67 Ogo Wii Road.
When Santa Fe County Sheriff Deputy John Maylone arrived at the scene, he reportedly found the victim conscious and standing by his gray Dodge Avenger.

Maylone said the victim had blood on his hands and blood on the back of his head.

A CT scan later taken at St. Vincent’s hospital showed a bullet lodged between the scalp and the skull. A neurosurgeon at the hospital reported that the bullet did fracture the victim’s skull. The victim had surgery later that night.

The victim told Maylone he first saw his attacker when he pulled onto NM 502. The Jeep Wrangler was reportedly in front of his vehicle and he was two to three car lengths behind.

At the intersection of NM 502 and State Road 30, the victim told police the Jeep driver pulled over and let the victim pass. The Jeep then pulled in behind the victim’s Dodge Avenger. The driver then eventually pulled up alongside the victim’s car and started yelling and making hand gestures, according to the report.

“(The victim) said he was trying to ignore the situation and did not engage the individual,” Maylone said in his report. “He just continued driving on State Road 502.”

It was at this point during the confrontation the victim heard two loud pops. He said he was pretty sure the pops were gunshots, but he could not be sure. He then sped up and left the area.

He told Maylone the shots occurred somewhere between Pojoaque High School and the Rio Grande River where it crosses the roadway.

Police found three bullet fragments inside the victim’s vehicle.

The condition of the victim was not known Tuesday.

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Juan Rios advised motorists to do everything they can to avoid trouble on the road.

“Avoid being aggressive in your own vehicle,” Rios said. “Follow typical safety guidelines in terms of keeping a safe distance between you and others on the road.”

Rios said that if a motorist ever finds themselves the victim of a road rage attack, to get the license number and call 911 to report it immediately, even though they’re still on the road.

Try to make as little contact as possible with the attacker, even if the attackers actions are unjustified.

“Even at times when you’re trying to avoid somebody like this driver was, if you’re dealing with someone in their right frame of mind things can go askew,” Rios said.

Rios advises motorists finding themselves in a similar situation to fall back as far as they can and call 911.

Rios said residents who may have more information about the attack can call the sheriff’s office at 505-428-3720 for more information.