Police: Man shoots wife in abdomen

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A Belen man is being held at the Valencia County Detention Center after police said he shot his estranged wife in the abdomen Monday morning while two of their three children watched.

Belen Police Chief Dan Robb said Pio Aquino, 31, shot his 31-year-old wife, Maria Aquino, in the abdomen at close range after the two got into an argument over their children at the La Villa Belen Apartments.

Pio Aquino Charged in shooting

Robb said the woman is in the process of getting a divorce from Pio Aquino, who was dropping off two of the children at the woman’s home on the 1000 block of Aragon Road Monday morning.

Robb didn’t know what the argument specifically was about.

Aquino is charged with aggravated battery on a household member with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a household member with intent to commit a violent felony, aggravated burglary and two counts of child abuse. The children are ages 12, 10 and 8 years old.

Robb said two of the couple’s children were in the same room as their parents when Aquino fired one shot with his .38-caliber revolver. The woman underwent surgery at an Albuquerque hospital Monday afternoon.

As of Tuesday morning, the woman was in critical condition, but able to talk to police.

On Monday morning, Maria Aquino told police her husband purposely shot her in the stomach and that “he killed her,” according to a criminal complaint.

The complaint said the woman told police at some point, her husband tried to have sex with her before she was shot.

But Pio Aquino told police the gun discharged accidentally.

In an interview with police, the couple’s 12-year-old daughter said her father took out the gun from his waist area and pointed it at her mother’s head, following an argument that started in one of the bedrooms.

The girl told police that she went to hide in a bathroom and shortly after heard a loud bang. She came out to find her mother lying face down in the living room.

“(She) stated she grabbed her phone and began calling 911, but saw that Pio had already began calling,” the complaint states.

The girl told police there was a “violent past” between her mother and father, the complaint said.

The 10-year-old boy said his father “forced his way” into the apartment when the children were in the process of being dropped off. He told police he thought his parents had a physical and verbal altercation in the bedroom.

He said he heard a “loud thump” and then the sound of his mother trying to catch her breath.

At some point, the two adults came out of the bedroom and the boy said his father told the woman that “he was going to take the kids and kill them” and later said he was kidding and that he loved them.

According to the complaint, the boy said his father grabbed his gun after the two began arguing over keys. He said his father asked his estranged wife “if she wanted to be scared” just before he reached for his gun, the complaint said.

The boy told police his father grabbed his gun for the second time and “quickly pointed the gun at Maria, who crouched to avoid being shot.” The couple’s son said when his mother fell to the ground, his father began yelling for someone to call 911.

The complaint said the boy was standing next to the woman when she was shot. The boy told police the incident was “not the first time” his father had pointed a gun at his mother.

“(He) stated about a year ago his mom and dad got into a fight and he witnessed his dad point a gun with a laser at his mom’s head,” the complaint stated. “(The boy) stated he has witnessed his dad beat his mom before and spanks them as well.”

The boy also told police his mother and father had argued over the phone about gas money prior to Monday’s incident.

Robb initially said all three children saw their father shoot their mother. The man is charged with only two counts of child abuse since the 12-year-old girl was in the bathroom and didn’t see the incident take place.

Before Monday’s incident, police were “not aware” of any other violent incidents between the two parties. But according to the criminal complaint, officers found an order of protection against Pio Aquino that had been filed in Valencia County District Court in Los Lunas on Dec. 3.

Police also recovered the gun and holster from the residence that they believe was used in the incident.

Aquino is being held at the Valencia County Detention Center on a $100,000 cash-only bond. The investigation is ongoing.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.