New Mexico State Police arrested a man in Española this week who is suspected in a weekend shooting outside the GreenTree Inn that critically wounded a man, Santa Fe police announced in a news release Wednesday.
Anthony Ortiz, 27, who is being held in the Rio Arriba County jail in Tierra Amarilla on unrelated charges, is accused of shooting Marty Little, 59, on Saturday in the motel parking lot.
Witnesses reported seeing a man grab Little’s phone, prompting a scuffle, and then Ortiz pulled out a gun and shot Little twice, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court.
Little remained in critical condition Tuesday at University of New Mexico Hospital.
State police contacted Santa Fe investigators Tuesday and said Ortiz had confessed to the shooting, the arrest warrant affidavit said.
Ortiz, who will be extradited to Santa Fe, faces charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, city police said in the news release. He also is charged with motor vehicle theft and tampering with evidence.
A woman and her adult son who were staying in the Cerrillos Road motel recounted a terrifying encounter with Ortiz in which he stole their vehicle, the affidavit said.
The son told police he was in the parking lot loading his belongings into the car when he saw Ortiz shoot Little. Ortiz pointed a gun at him, the man said, and told him to get the car keys from his mother, who was inside a motel room. Ortiz held the barrel of the gun to the man’s back as they walked into the room. Ortiz then took the keys from a lanyard off the woman’s neck and fled from the motel in her 2001 silver Buick.
The woman, who spoke with The New Mexican about the incident Tuesday, said she and her son “lost everything” with the vehicle, including more than $1,500 intended for a rental deposit, birth certificates and clothing. She asked not to be identified out of concern for her safety.
She and her son had been staying in different hotels throughout the month of May as they waited for housing to become available, the woman said.
Santa Fe police said in the news release they learned Ortiz had abandoned the Buick in Albuquerque, and police in that city were able to recover it.
Some members of Santa Fe’s professional baseball team, the Fuego, also witnessed Saturday’s shooting.
The Fuego have been using the GreenTree as the unofficial team motel since the start of preseason training camp May 24. Fuego manager Bill Rogan said at least two players witnessed the incident. One, who was not yet part of the team’s roster, decided to leave, Rogan said.
In an interview with Santa Fe police, Ortiz said the first shot he fired behind Firehouse Subs was to scare away two men who were hassling him, according to the affidavit. Investigators later found a bullet hole in the dirt behind Firehouse Subs.
Ortiz said he was then followed by Little, who was holding his phone, into the GreenTree parking lot. Ortiz pointed his gun at Little and told him to give him the phone. When Little refused, Ortiz told officers, the two argued, Ortiz grabbed the phone and Little threw a knife at him.
Ortiz told police he turned around and saw Little running at him. He “got scared” and fired twice at Little before running and stealing the car, according to the affidavit.
Surveillance footage from the motel shows two men running toward the northeast corner of the parking lot before one falls to the ground, the affidavit said.
Officers found a pool of blood on the concrete, a black folding knife and two spent .45-caliber bullet casings in the parking lot of the motel.
After he left, Ortiz told police, he drove the car to Albuquerque and left it at the Cottonwood Mall.
Ortiz was arrested Monday after a high-speed chase in Española, according to court records. After the Jeep he was driving came to a stop, police said Ortiz tried to put narcotics in his mouth. Officers also found a handgun, Xanax pills and a small bag of methamphetamine in the car.
The affidavit said the Jeep also was believed to have been stolen at gunpoint.
Saturday’s shooting is one in a series of violent incidents this year at the GreenTree Inn, the site of a former Motel 6 that also had a history of violence, drug transactions and other crimes.
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.
In February, 52-year-old Arthur Loretto’s body was found in a room at the GreenTree Inn. Police have not named a suspect in his death.