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Today's News

  • Drought forces painful choices for New Mexico ranchers

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Some stretches of New Mexico have gone months without meaningful moisture, leaving farmers and ranchers to make difficult decisions as long-term forecasts call for drought to intensify across the already arid state.

    Experts with the National Weather Service talked of pitiful snowpack levels in the mountain ranges that feed the state's rivers ahead of the release Thursday of the latest drought map.

    Despite the snow that fell overnight and early Thursday in some parts, the map shows all but a small sliver of southern New Mexico is grappling with some level of dryness, with extreme drought increasing in the northwest corner of the state.

    The absence of moisture elsewhere in the West also has become more common since the start of the year. Every square mile of neighboring Arizona along with Utah and Nevada are mired in drought. Significant portions of Texas and Colorado have also fallen behind in snow and rainfall.

    Royce Fontenot, a senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said it would take more than the recent moisture to recover from the long-term effects of drought.

    "Drought is like malnutrition. One meal is not going to catch you up," he said.

  • Belen police: Student into custody in school shooting threat

    BELEN (AP) — Authorities in Belen say a 16-year-old student is in custody after allegedly threatening to carry out a school shooting at Belen High School, resulting in a two-hour delay of the start of classes Thursday.

    Police say the threat was made Wednesday night via social media and that investigators tracked down the student by tracing the social media account.

    Police Chief Scott Conner told the Albuquerque Journal that the student said he had no intention of shooting up the school and only made the threat "to see what kind of response he would get from the school and law enforcement."

    The Associated Press generally does not publish the identities of juvenile suspects.

    Police presence at the school was stepped up Thursday morning.

    Belen is 30 miles south of Albuquerque.
     

  • Sheriff's Office: Student detained in school bomb threat

    KIRTLAND, N.M. (AP) — San Juan County authorities say a 17-year-old Kirtland Central High School student is accused of making a bomb threat against the school.

    The Sheriff's Office says the male student was detained Wednesday at a juvenile center on suspicion of a felony charge of making a bomb square.

    The office says the threat involved a handwritten note found in a school restroom and that the resulting investigation included interviews and handwriting samples.

    According to the office, detectives obtained a confession from the student.
     

  • Authorities investigate suspicious deaths in Santa Fe County

    SANTA FE (AP) — Authorities say they found two bodies in southern Santa Fe County, in an investigation that apparently started after a rancher discovered a dead woman stuffed into a garbage container along the road near his home.

    The Santa Fe County sheriff's office says the rancher, Fidel Montoya of Stanley, found the deceased woman Monday, and calls the deaths "suspicious."

    The bodies have been sent to the state Office of the Medical Investigator.

    Sheriff's office spokesman Juan Ríos declined Wednesday to provide any more information on the case — such as how long the victims might have been dead, their genders or whether they were killed elsewhere and dumped at the site or died close by.
     

  • Las Cruces student arrested after Snapchat photo with rifle

    LAS CRUCES (AP) — A Las Cruces high school student has been arrested after allegedly posting a photo of himself holding a rifle and referencing school shootings, making it the third threat arrest of a New Mexico teen.

    Las Cruces police said Thursday that 18-year-old Ernest Padilla has been booked on one count of unlawful carrying a deadly weapon on school premises.

    Administrators discovered the photo on social media app Snapchat on Wednesday afternoon. An accompanying message stated "Mexican school shooter" along with the abbreviations for "just kidding."

    Police found a butterfly knife and brass knuckles on Padilla and recovered a rifle from his home.

    Also on Wednesday, a San Juan County teen made a bomb threat and a 16-year-old Belen boy threatened to carry out a school shooting the next day.
     

  • Car crash at East Road and Central Avenue

    A Toyota pickup truck and an Infiniti sedan collided at the intersection of East Road and Central Avenue Wednesday night at around 10 p.m. There were injuries at the scene, and police are still investigating what happened. Police would not say the extent of the injuries or who was involved. Police at the scene believed weather may have played a part in the crash. Los Alamos County is currently under a winter storm warning until 5 p.m. Thursday. The National Weather Service is also warning snowpacked and icy conditions on the roads all day Thursday.

    Log into the Los Alamos Monitor Thursday for more details. 

  • Cuba Ranger District Chaparral piles prescribed burn to start Thursday

    To take advantage of favorable conditions, to include fuel moisture levels, air quality and weather forecasts, fire managers on the Cuba Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) expect to begin ignitions Thursday on Chaparral piles to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

    Weather permitting, crews are expected to treat up to 49 acres of the Chaparral piles.

    The Chaparral piles area is located along Forest Service Road 539, two miles south of the Rancho del Chaparral Girl Scout Camp. Smoke may be visible from Cuba, Jemez Springs, San Ysidro and Highway 550.

    Smoke from the prescribed burn will be monitored to ensure that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are met. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website at nmtracking.org/fire.

    For more information about this prescribed burn, contact the Cuba Ranger District at 575.289.3264.

  • State police continue investigation into Pajarito Cliffs incident

    New Mexico State Police continue to investigate a Saturday morning incident in which Los Alamos police were involved in a shooting at a county facility in Pajarito Cliffs.

    LAPD spokesman Cmdr. Preston Ballew said the incident occurred around 3:45 a.m. when LAPD officers were investigating suspicious circumstances at the facility.

    The suspects fled the scene and a pursuit ensued out of Los Alamos County and into the Española/Rio Arriba area. LAPD officers were assisted in the pursuit by neighboring law enforcement officials.

    When the pursuit came to a halt in Española the suspects exited the car and fled on foot.

    Española Public Information Officer Jeremy Apodaca, whose department assisted in the chase, said no arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon and that the subjects remained at large.

    Ballew added that “no officers were injured in this incident” and that LAPD believes this was an isolated incident.

    “We do not believe the public is in jeopardy,” he said.

    Ballew confirmed Tuesday that no arrests had been made. He said more details would be released as they become available.

  • Search for suspect continues in road rage incident

    Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has followed some tips but is still searching for the suspect who fired shots into the vehicle of a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee, striking him in the back of his head Feb. 2 as he was driving home to Santa Fe.

    According to initial reports, the victim, a 40-year-old man, called 911 from the Phillips 66 gas station at 67 Ogo Wii Road in Pojoaque Feb. 2 following a road rage incident. 

    The man described to police that he had an exchange on NM 502 with a person driving a white Jeep Wrangler. The driver of the Jeep Wrangler had reportedly driven in front of his vehicle and pulled over to let him pass. The Jeep then pulled behind him and then alongside the victim, yelling and making hand gestures.

    The victim heard two loud pops somewhere between Pojoaque High School and the Rio Grande River. He said he was pretty sure the pops were gunshots, but he could not be sure. He then sped up and left the area.

    The victim was struck in the back of the head and sustained injuries. A bullet fragment was lodged in his skull, according to police reports.

  • Family mourns loss of brother after freak accident in WR

    Ronald “Ronnie” Swartz usually never filled up his truck in Los Alamos before heading home to Las Vegas, New Mexico. But on Feb. 5, he had plans to help his cousin after work. 

    At lunchtime, the union plumber stopped at the White Rock Giant gas station on Rover Boulevard to get some gas.

    That decision put Swartz, 56, in the narrow path of a flying rock that struck him in the head, taking his life. 

    At about 12:30 p.m., the rock was thrown off of a nearby commercial lawnmower, striking Swartz in the head as he stood at a gas pump. He died as a result of the injury, according to Los Alamos Police Department spokesman Cmdr. Preston Ballew.

    Swartz’s family is still dealing with the grief, said his sister, Sandy Owen, of Tuscon, Arizona.

    “It’s such a weird and strange and bizarre thing that happened to our brother,” Owen said. 

    LAPD is continuing to investigate the incident, Ballew said Tuesday. A New Mexico Department of Transportation grass mower was apparently involved in launching the rock, he said.