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Public Safety

  • Police detain suspected armed man

    On Friday afternoon, around 2:30 p.m. suspect Jesse Velasco, while walking at Ashley Pond, called police and told them he had a gun, according to officials. After a brief conversation with Velasco, police arrested him and brought him in, even though it turns out he did not have a gun. As of press time it is not known whether Velasco was charged.

  • Banks fend off cyberattacks

    Second of a two-part series

    The Wall Street Journal reported last week that major U.S. banks are seeking government action to stop or mitigate intensifying cyberattacks against American banking institutions. Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup are some of a dozen major institutions targeted since early 2011.

    The attacks have largely been in the form of distributed denial-of-service, using a network of infected computers to overwhelm computer systems and disrupt websites. The volume of the attacks is 10 to 20 times greater than previously recorded denial-of-service intrusions.

    Financial institutions have spent millions of dollars responding to the assaults. Washington officials attribute the attacks to the Iranian government, which denies involvement.

    Concern about the attacks intensified in September when the FBI published a fraud alert warning financial institutions that cyber criminals may be using DDoS to mask fraudulent wire transfers.

    The alert warned that criminals were using social engineering techniques such as spam and phishing emails to target financial institution employees, hoping to gain access to internal networks and steal employee and administrative credentials. The intruders could then control all aspects of a wire transaction, including approval.

  • Gun debate heats up

    Second of a two-part series

    Though the various forms of legislation mentioned in the last article remain in the committee stage, Mark Covell is not so sure the “gun show” bill put forth by Rep. Miguel Garcia, (D-Bernalillo) will be effective, even if the state does decide to establish a background check hotline.

    “I know some states are talking about now having mandatory background checks on all weapons whether it’s through a dealer or an individual,” Covell said. “How are you going to make that work? If you go down to your local department of motor vehicles office, you begin to have your doubts about the state running any kind of program.”

    He quoted a passage in the legislation he’s particularly concerned about.

    “‘Our legislation will require background checks for the mentally and criminally adjudicated at Gun Shows in New Mexico, and for a private individual purchases.”

  • Police Beat 01-22-13

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    Jan 10
    4:17 a.m. — Officials at the Los Alamos National Bank reported damage to property (less than $1,000) in the 2000 block of E. Jemez Road.

    5:11 p.m. — A 20-year-old Los Alamos man reported to police he was the victim of fraud (less than $100) in the 4900 block of North Sol.

    Jan. 11
    8:16 a.m. — Rusty Mock, 43, of Los Alamos was arrested on a charge of criminal trespass at 41st and Urban Street.

    2:38 p.m. — A 50-year-old Los Alamos woman reported to police she had been the victim of a larceny (over $2,500 but less than $20,000) in the 100 block of North Rey Drive.

  • Security worker's murder charge dropped

    On Friday, Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas R. Rodella announced the arrest of Kaiwee Martinez, 35, who was charged with an open count of murder in the Nov. 3, 2012 shooting death of Lawrence Sandoval at the woman’s Alcalde home.

    Securing our Country (SOC), the lab security force that employs Martinez, released the following statement.

    “Kaiwee Martinez is employed by SOC Los Alamos (a subcontractor to LANS, LLC) as an unarmed security officer,” SOC spokesperson Liddie Martinez said. “She has been on leave without pay since the day of the incident in November 2012.

    She has not had access to Los Alamos National Laboratory since that time.”

    “We conducted a comprehensive, detailed investigation into Mr. Sandoval’s homicide over the course of the next 10 weeks,” Rodella said. “Early on in our investigation we determined that the defendant’s account of events preceding the shooting was not credible.”

    It was reported in Saturday’s Albuquerque Journal that District Attorney Angela ‘Spence’ Pacheco dismissed the case against Martinez without prejudice — meaning charges could be refiled by the DA’s office in the future — pending further investigation into the case.

  • Gun legislation surfaces

    First in a two-part series

    In the aftermath of the shootings in Aurora Colo., Newtown Conn. and Taft, Calif. Legislation both for and against gun control has been popping up all over the country.

    As the national debate continues to foment, it was only a matter of time until New Mexico’s recently reconvened state legislature came up with some of its own.

    Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Bernalillo, recently introduced legislation that he said would tighten up background checks at gun shows and also establishes a state background check system.

    “Our Wild West days are over. Our Wild Bill Cody and Annie Oakley days are over. Our legislation will require background checks for the mentally and criminally adjudicated at gun shows in New Mexico, and for private individual purchases.” The bill is known as HB 77.

    Another piece of proposed legislation is HB 114, sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, seems to go completely in the opposite direction. It tells the feds to back off — or else.

  • State reports first flu deaths this season

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico health officials on Thursday confirmed the first five flu deaths of this season.

    The cases involve a 91-year-old woman and a 94-year-old woman from Rio Arriba County, a 67-year-old woman from Bernalillo County, a 57-year-old woman from Lea County and a 56-year-old man from Chaves County.

    The state Health Department doesn’t track every case of flu in New Mexico, but it does track influenza-like illness at dozens of locations statewide to estimate the amount of flu activity. Providers and laboratories reported that nearly 5 percent of patient visits last week were for flu-like illnesses.

    That percentage has fallen for two consecutive weeks, but state epidemiologist Michael Landen was still urging people to get vaccinated.

    “The influenza season started early and rates of flu-related hospitalizations are higher than they have been in recent years,” he said.

    Officials said vaccinations are particularly important for pregnant women, children who are 6 months to 5 years old, adults 50 and older, Native Americans and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

    The first of about 726,000 doses of vaccine began arriving in New Mexico in September.

  • Crisis Center offers programs for victims

    Second in a two-part series

    Opened in 1992, the Crisis Center of Northern New Mexico is an Española-based facility with 18 beds, which vary in vacancy throughout the year, according to the center’s assistant Director Ramon Garcia.

    “If we have no vacancies, we can usually find them a place and resources to help them,” Garcia said.

    One interesting fact Garcia noted was that most women seeking shelter from abuse have little in terms of financial resources. The center’s services are free. The center relies on state and federal support as well as private donations.

    “We see more of the low-income victims of domestic violence because they are the ones that need help finding shelter,” Garcia said. “Victims with a higher income will just go find someplace else, perhaps a hotel room. Higher income individuals will also seek private therapy for help in overcoming their issues.”

    Garcia said the Crisis Center provides emergency shelter for up to 90 days. The introduction to the center is similar to how the perpetrators are introduced to the center, Garcia said.

    There is an assessment of each victim to determine what level of care they need.

  • Black ice leads to tough commute

    The morning commute was an icy one Wednesday. The Truck Route was closed for several hours after four separate accidents, because of black ice on the roadway, according to Los Alamos Police Department’s Scott Mills. Mills said there were only minor injuries in the wrecks. He said there also was an accident on the Main Hill earlier this morning, but that has since been cleared and the road is open. 

  • Crisis Center works to rehab DV offenders

    First of a series

    The victims often suffer in silence.

    It’s an insidious problem that can be found on virtually every rung of the socioeconomic ladder.

    While some people may know a victim of domestic violence, more often people hear about cases when it makes the news.

    Once a domestic violence case makes its way to the criminal justice system, the paths taken by the victim and the perpetrator diverge. For those convicted of domestic violence, there is a lot that begins to happen behind the scenes, which involves more than just a fine and probation.

    The Los Alamos Magistrate Court usually refers those convicted of a domestic violence charge to the Crisis Center of Northern New Mexico, located in Española.

    According to the center’s assistant director Ramon Garcia, the 52-week rehab program the center offers for domestic violence offenders begins with an interview with the offender.

    “We first perform an initial assessment of their ability to control themselves,” Garcia said. From there, he said, they are assigned a group of people with similar backgrounds and situations before beginning treatment.