Memories of Edward Daniel Santana flooded back to family members Tuesday as they talked about his life and death.
They remembered the good times. They anguished over the darkness — the drug use, the struggle with addiction, and finally the horrific moments of July 7 that led to the stabbing of Santana’s mother, and later, his own death after he was fatally shot by Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies off Bishops Lodge Road.
“That,” said Santana’s father, Edward Gene Santana, “was not my son.”
New Mexico State Police said Edward Daniel Santana, known to family members as Daniel, stabbed his mother, 67-year-old Delia Cervantes, multiple times before he was shot and killed by deputies investigating the incident.
State police, who are leading the investigation, said Daniel Santana, 45, was seen standing on a patio holding a fence post and began to walk toward deputies “in an aggressive manner” and ignored their commands. Police said an officer deployed a Taser before another fired at least one shot.
Santana was pronounced dead at the scene. Cervantes succumbed to her injuries in a local hospital that same day.
Santana’s paternal family said the incident remains a shocking one, noting Daniel’s drug use had begun to change him in the months leading up to the incident.
But they also questioned deputies’ actions.
Family members who spoke with an aunt who lived at the home with Cervantes said Santana slit his own throat after stabbing his mother. They said they believe Daniel likely was bleeding to death before deputies shot him, and they are unsure he could have assaulted an officer in that condition.
“I went and saw the site, and there was all this blood,” Santana’s aunt, Josie Santana, said in an interview Tuesday. “These officers, were they really in danger? Why do they always have to shoot to kill?”
Cervantes’ sister, Carmen Valenzuela, who witnessed the attack and shooting, declined to comment Tuesday.
Edward Gene Santana said the response he received from law enforcement when he arrived “disturbed” him.
“When I got there, I asked the officer, ‘How’s Daniel? How’s Daniel?’ ” he said. “The officer responded, ‘Oh, he’s been shot. He’ll never bother anybody again.’ ”
State police did not respond to questions about the family’s statements on Daniel Santana’s reported attempt at suicide, nor how it affected deputies’ actions. A spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office referred all questions to state police.
Cervantes, who was never married to Santana’s father, was a longtime bus driver for Santa Fe Public Schools. She was organized and an avid runner, the family said.
Her 20-year relationship with Edward Santana ended more than a decade ago, but family members said both families were gracious and spent time together.
They added that as an adult, Daniel Santana was “off and on” between living with his father and aunt on Siringo Road in Santa Fe and staying in a room he rented near Tesuque. He was in touch with his mother but did not see her very often, they added.
Edward Santana said his son was struggling with drug addiction, and drug use had begun to change the man he knew. Crystal methamphetamine was one of the drugs he knew his son was using, he said.
Family members recalled a kind man and hard worker before drugs took hold. Daniel Santana, they said, loved hunting, motorcycles and bike riding, often with his close friends.
“That wasn’t him — that was not him,” Josie Santana said, referring to the darker moments in Daniel Santana’s life. “He had a big heart. He was so gentle with animals, and he loved his family.”
She said Daniel worked in carpentry and construction and often helped her with projects on her 1-acre property. He had even helped build a garden she now calls “Daniel’s Garden.”
About a year ago, Daniel Santana took part in a four-month rehabilitation program, and his fight with addiction was improving, family members said.
It didn’t last.
“Three to four months ago, I noticed a change in him,” his father said. “That drug is a very paranoid drug that alters the brain. He was a completely different person — it destroyed him.”
An aunt, Teresa Ordaz, said there had always been some tension between Santana and his mother. But she had never seen Santana get angry or become violent, and she knew Cervantes loved her son as well.
“He was a very sad individual, but he tried to be happy,” Ordaz said. “He was just a very loving man that was looking for something, like acceptance or that he was good enough.”
Josie Santana said she knew Daniel was troubled but always tried to support him and show him love and affection.
“I’m not sure what his demons were, but something snapped and it’s tragic,” she said.
Family members said the influence of drug abuse and addiction can’t be overstated.
“The truth is that it altered his head, his mind, his thinking, paranoia,” Edward Santana said. “It’s going on all over Santa Fe. It’s been going on for years everywhere. I don’t know what to say.”
Methamphetamine has played a role in recent shootings in Santa Fe.
Francisco Javier Lino-Gutierrez, 29, was shot and killed in late June by a Santa Fe police officer after reportedly shooting at a woman in De Vargas Park. The gun was handed to him by 20-year-old Kalin Addison, who told police she had consumed methamphetamine the morning of the shooting.
Frank Pete, 50, was killed in January and was believed to be selling methamphetamine in the Las Palomas apartment complex. He was shot following a drug deal, according to an arrest warrant affidavit unsealed in March.
David Hernandez, 24, was killed early April at the South Capitol Rail Runner train station after a haggle over the price of methamphetamine turned sour, witnesses told police in April.