An Albuquerque man is facing a count of attempted murder after he was accused of shooting at another motorist during a road-rage incident that started early Thursday on southbound Interstate 25 near Santa Fe.
Police said the confrontation began when John Paul Ureta, 44, began tailgating another driver in his blue Toyota Rav4 as they were both merging from St. Francis Drive onto the freeway.
“During the encounter Mr. Ureta fired a single shot striking the victim’s vehicle,” the Santa Fe Police Department said in a news release.
The other motorist, who was driving a Toyota Tundra, began following Ureta and rammed his vehicle, according to police, and the altercation continued for several miles. According to a criminal complaint, Ureta stopped at the N.M. 599 exit, made a U-turn and then circled the other driver before traveling south on N.M. 599. He made another U-turn and returned to I-25, the complaint said.
The incident culminated when both vehicles stopped on the interstate.
“While stopped,” the police department said in the news release, “Ureta exited his vehicle and fired several more shots from a handgun, striking the windshield of the victim’s vehicle. The victim did not sustain any injuries.”
According to the criminal complaint, the Tundra driver ducked when Ureta began shooting at him the second time. One bullet struck his driver’s-side headrest and another struck the center of the driver’s-side seat.
The man told police he knew he should have pulled over after Ureta shot at him the first time, but instead he followed Ureta and rammed his RAV4 because he didn’t want Ureta to get away with the alleged crime, according to the complaint.
Ureta subsequently sped off and threw the weapon out his window, the statement said, but police recovered it with the help of a K-9.
Police later located Ureta at a downtown hotel, where he initially told officers his vehicle had been stolen. He later said he had shot at the other motorist in “self-defense” after the motorist sideswiped him, according to the complaint.
Ureta was arrested on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and making a false report of a criminal act.