Jay Wagers faces nearly a dozen charges tied to violent incidents Monday afternoon — including carjacking and armed robbery attempts and a shooting outside Owl’s Liquors that left a man with a gunshot wound to the head.
Lt. David Webb said Santa Fe police also are “looking at Wagers as a person of interest” in an early morning shooting Monday that left 39-year-old Joseph Aiello dead in a home on Alamosa Drive, also from a head wound.
Wagers, 25, has not been named as a suspect in the homicide, and police have not confirmed whether Aiello’s death is tied to the series of violence later in the day.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court, Wagers was charged with two counts of attempt to commit first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and breaking and entering in the Monday crime spree. He was also charged with two counts of battery upon a peace officer, attempt to commit armed robbery, criminal damage to property and three misdemeanors related to incidents that occurred following his arrest Monday in the parking lot of the Santa Fe Indian School.
Wagers is accused of shooting the man at Owl’s Liquors before running to Baca Street and Cerrillos Road, where he attempted several carjackings, according to a statement of probable cause.
Security footage from the liquor store on Hickox Street showed a “tan four-door sedan” pull into the parking lot of the store with multiple people inside, the statement said. The front passenger of the vehicle went into the store, while the driver and rear passenger, later determined to be Wagers, waited in the vehicle.
When the passenger returned to the sedan, a man walked up to it and spoke with people inside through the front passenger window. As the man spoke with the sedan’s occupants, the complaint said, “the rear driver-side passenger is seen partially exiting the vehicle and appeared to be using the vehicle’s door frame to hide.” The passenger then “pulled a gun from his waistband and waved it around carelessly.”
The man backed away, and the car drove toward him, with both the man and the car moving out of the range of the security camera. Shortly after, the complaint said, the vehicle headed south on Hickox Street and the man returned to the store, wounded.
Witnesses told police they heard at least three gunshots before the man came back into the store bleeding from a head wound, the statement said. Medical staff later determined he had been shot through his right temple and eye socket.
He was transported to a local hospital before being flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital for treatment.
Police believe Wagers ran from the store while the two other people fled in the sedan.
Multiple people reported a man with a gun had threatened them around 1:30 p.m. Monday in the area surrounding the intersection of Baca Street and Cerrillos Road.
One caller said the armed man had jumped on the hood of her car. Another said the man attempted to get in his vehicle and then pointed a gun at the car, and a third caller said he attempted to steal her purse at the Counter Culture Cafe on Baca Street.
A fourth caller told police a man who fit the description of Wagers had attempted to flag down her vehicle while she was near the intersection of Baca and Potencia streets. When she did not stop for him, she heard a gunshot, and her rear window and front windshield shattered.
“[The victim] stated the projectile entered and exited the headrest within an inch of where her head was,” the statement said.
Police found two .40-caliber shell casings, one in the parking lot of Owl’s Liquor and another on Baca Street.
Several nearby businesses and schools — including Santa Fe Indian School and the Early Learning Center at Kaune — were placed on lockdown as law enforcement searched for the suspects.
Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies found Wagers hiding in a gray Toyota truck in the Indian School parking lot, the agency said in a news release. He was armed with a .40-caliber handgun and a knife.
After his arrest, Wagers requested a lawyer and refused to speak with investigators, according to the statement.
When officers attempted to book him into a holding cell, Wagers struggled, the statement said, adding he later damaged a wall in the cell. An officer confronted him about the damage, and Wagers replied, “What are you going to do about it?” the statement said. He then spit on the officer’s shirt.
Wagers is familiar with Santa Fe police. Jail records show he has been arrested at least 14 times in in the city since 2014.
In 2019, he was charged with two counts of battery on a peace officer, two counts of resisting or evading an officer and assault, according to court records.
The charges stemmed from an episode of violence in a home on Alamosa Drive.
Police tried to grab Wagers’ arms to stop him as he walked away from the home, ignoring their commands, and he punched a female officer in the face and kneed a male officer in the back of his head.
The incident led to his conviction on a charge of battery upon a peace officer. He was also found guilty of motor vehicle theft, receiving stolen property and possession of narcotics between 2017 and 2019.
The Santa Fe Police Department is still investigating the Monday morning homicide at 2728 Alamosa Drive — at least the city’s seventh this year.
Webb said the department has received calls for service to the home before, but nothing as violent as Aiello’s death.
The Santa Fe man was a talented guitar player, said a friend who was in the home at the time of his death. She also described him as kind and helpful.
“When I became homeless once, I was robbed,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “Joey gave me a new backpack and sleeping bag without a thought.”
She had known Aiello for about six years, the woman said, adding he was a “terrific man.”
Correction appended: This story has been amended to reflect the following correction: An earlier version incorrectly identified the shooting victim at Owl's Liquors as an employee of the store.