Santa Fe police were searching for a suspect who shot a 59-year-old man in the head outside of the GreenTree Inn on Saturday, then fled in a car he stole from the motel parking lot.

Officers were called around 12:40 p.m. Saturday to the inn on Cerrillos Road and Vegas Verdes Drive for a report of gunfire, police Lt. Sean Strahon said.

When they arrived, they found the victim bleeding in the parking lot.

Medics rushed him to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, and he later was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where he was listed in critical condition.

The suspect, described as a man in his late 20s or early 30s with a thick build, fled in a silver 2001 Buick four-door sedan bearing New Mexico license plate AKTL45, police said.

Moises Cerda, who works at Crepas-oh! across the street from the motel, said he heard at least three gunshots.

“There was a lady who just screamed, ‘What are you doing?’ And that’s when we heard the first shot,” Cerda said.

Robert Kelsey, who also works in the shopping center across from the motel, didn’t see the shooting but heard witnesses talk about what they saw just minutes after the shooting occurred.

“They saw a couple [of] people fighting, heard a pop and saw someone running away,” Kelsey said.

The GreenTree Inn has a history of drugs, violence and other crime.

In January, officers arrested Alvin Crespin, 45, on suspicion of murder after finding the body of 50-year-old Virgil Tortalita in a bathtub at the motel.

Police said Tortalita’s body, which had signs of strangulation and stab wounds, might have been lying in the bathtub for days.

In February, 52-year-old Arthur Loretto’s body was found in a room at the GreenTree Inn, with signs of possible head trauma and blood pooling on his chest from a stab wound. Police have not named a suspect in Loretto’s death.

(10) comments

Sue Carr

We need to address the issues of drug and alcohol abuse in the city in general: give people access to more options of treatment along with treatment that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Stop blaming the people and deal with the issues!

B. Rosen

Hopefully this uptick in violent crime will subside when the economy recovers.

Richard Reinders

Ya right

David Brown

Close the dump….the owner makes money off the crimes of others.

Dan Frazier

At what point does the City condemn this hotel as a menace to the public? Can the City take over the hotel by buying it or using powers of eminent domain? Can it mandate changes in operations like requiring guests to have a major credit card? Can it routinely post police officer(s) at the hotel to meet and greet guests, perhaps doing sobriety checks, weapons searches, drug searches, reviews of applicable laws appropriate to recent events at the hotel? This is really getting ridiculous!

Khal Spencer

IIRC, the city has posted police there from time to time. But I agree with you on some sort of condemnation process. Of course, that just means the low lives will go somewhere else. Maybe what Santa Fe needs is a red light district and a sign saying those proceeding beyond those gates of H*ll do so at their own risk.

Patricio R. Downs

I believe you're looking for a sign at the entrance saying "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here" then?

Khal Spencer


Khal Spencer

"... a history of drugs, violence and other crime..."

No surprise someone would get shot there.

Miranda Viscoli

Third shooting in a month in Santa Fe.

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