Santa Fe police were still searching late Thursday for a man suspected in a shooting earlier in the day outside a home on Barela Lane, off Agua Fría Street, that sent another man to a local hospital and left construction workers at nearby homes rattled with fear.
One man working on a roofing project down the street described hearing some 15 gunshots — one that whizzed by just inches from his head.
A one-mile stretch of Agua Fría Street was closed to traffic in both directions for a few hours Thursday as officers investigated the scene on Barela Lane, where they believe 35-year-old Miguel Mendoza-Portillo opened fire.
Deputy Chief Ben Valdez of the Santa Fe Police Department said blood and a number of spent shell casings were found at the scene, and officers were trying to determine whether both men had fired shots during the incident, reported at 1:25 p.m. Police believe they knew each other.
“Some type of argument occurred prior to the gunshots,” Valdez said.
The 48-year-old man who was injured in the shooting, whom police have not named, went to a local hospital in a red pickup, either by driving himself or with another person behind the wheel. He was hit at least once in the torso and was in serious but stable condition, the deputy chief said.
Police believe Mendoza-Portillo, who also might have been injured, fled the scene on foot and sought refuge at a home in the area, and then drove away in a vehicle before police arrived, Valdez said.
One member of the roofing crew took a photo of a person walking quickly away from the scene. He provided the image to The New Mexican and to police. His brother, another roofer on the three-man crew, said they had seen a man and woman rushing away together, though only one person is visible in the photo. The roofers were not certain if the couple were involved in the shooting.
A black van remained at the shooting scene with its hazard lights blinking. Valdez said the van was connected to the incident.
Barela Lane, a small street east of Frenchy’s Field Park, is known for drug trafficking, some neighbors said.
Police have been called to the street on reports of suspected drug dealing, Valdez confirmed, but he said it was unclear Thursday, as officers continued to investigate what led to the shooting, whether the incident was drug related.
Luis Salcido, 54, who was working on a nearby roof with his brother and cousin, said he heard what he first thought was the sound of firecrackers. He then realized the sound was gunfire coming from down the street.
“We heard people screaming,” he said. “We tried to see what was going on, but a bullet passed by my head, a couple of inches away.”
Salcido said he and the two other men on his crew dropped to their stomachs and lay on the roof “until the shooting stopped.”
“I told my brother, ‘This isn’t the Fourth of July — this is real life,’ ” Salcido said.
He called 911 while he was lying on the roof.
He heard about 15 shots before things got quiet, he said, and then his crew climbed down from the roof. A construction crew working at a house across the street offered to let them to come hide inside, and they did.
As they were looking out the window of the home where they had taken cover, Salcido said, they saw a man and woman walking quickly down the street.
“He had a gun in his belt, showing,” Salcido said. “And he had his hand on his pistol. He was so nervous, he was walking so fast. He and the girl.”
His brother took a photograph as the pair walked by.
“We think they escaped. We don’t know,” Salcido said, adding he was still shaken by the incident.
Reporter Phaedra Haywood contributed to this report.