Police shoot man pointing rifle at them

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An investigation into an officer-involved shooting in Los Lunas continues as the suspect is recovering in an Albuquerque hospital.

The suspect, Russell Werner, 32 of Albuquerque, was shot multiple times Sunday night and is charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and felon in possession of a firearm.

The case and investigation is being handled by New Mexico State Police's Investigations Bureau.

The incident began earlier in the day when Belen police became involved in a pursuit of a vehicle, a red-colored Oldsmobile Alero, that was displaying a stolen license plate. Ultimately, BPD officers called off the pursuit and reported the description of the car to surrounding law enforcement agencies.

Later that night, just after 10:30 p.m., Los Lunas officers were at the Hilltop Terrace Apartments on Canal Boulevard conducting an unrelated investigation. While at the apartment complex, the officers saw a vehicle matching the description of the suspected car in Belen earlier that day.

"LLPD officers were able to confirm it was the vehicle involved in the Belen pursuit from earlier that evening," said State Police Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez. "As LLPD officers were conducting their investigation, a male and female came out of one of the apartments and began to approach … where the officers were."

Gutierrez said as the man, later identified as Werner, approached the officers, they noticed that he was holding a long, assault platform-style rifle.

At that time, the two officers gave verbal commands to Werner, telling him to drop the weapon, but the suspect reportedly raised the rifle towards the officers' direction.

"(The) officers fired, and (Werner) was hit multiple times," Gutierrez said.

Werner was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where he underwent surgery. He is still at the Albuquerque facility recovering from his injuries.

According to online court records, Werner's criminal history includes several traffic offenses, including DWI. He has also been convicted of criminal damage to property, battery, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer and tampering with evidence.

Gutierrez said the names of the two Los Lunas officers involved in the shooting will be released after state police investigators interview them.


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