A day after state prosecutors dismissed charges in a teen homicide case, citing problems with evidence gathered by Santa Fe police, a key witness was arrested on suspicion of carrying out a drive-by shooting.
Angelo Hernandez, 18, was charged Wednesday with counts of assault with intent to commit a felony, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence. Police say he fired a gun at a home off Riverside Loop, according to a criminal complaint filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court.
Hernandez told police he believed a resident there had robbed his home earlier that day, the complaint stated. He admitted to shooting at the residence seven times.
Hernandez was wounded in a July 2020 shooting that killed 17-year-old Ivan Perez at an apartment complex in southern Santa Fe. He was one of two teens who identified Mario Guizar-Anchondo, now 18, as the shooter. But state District Judge T. Glenn Ellington ruled their identifications of the suspect could not be presented at Guizar-Anchondo’s trial because police did not follow proper procedures to obtain the statements.
Prosecutors dropped a charge of first-degree murder and other counts against Guizar-Anchondo on Tuesday.
In a letter Tuesday to Santa Fe police Capt. Aaron Ortiz, Sgts. Lisa Champlin and Blake Byford and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies wrote: “One of the first major problems that was litigated was the statutorily and constitutionally impermissible ‘photo line-up’ of the defendant. … There are certain procedures that must be followed for a prosecuting authority to use the identification of the target in Court. In this case, none of the procedures were followed and the Court suppressed the identification of the defendant.”
That was one of 26 evidence issues Carmack-Altwies listed in the letter. Among the “outstanding” pieces of evidence were DNA samples from Guizar-Anchondo, witness statements, crime scene logs and search warrants for various addresses.
Ortiz said the drive-by shooting and alleged burglary of Hernandez’s home were not related to charges being dropped against Guizar-Anchondo.
“There is no concern over Hernandez’s safety regarding the other case,” Ortiz added.
He said the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation into Perez’s death remains active, and the department plans to revisit evidence, hold additional interviews with witnesses and eventually refile charges in the case.
“I can’t really speak on what evidence we’re looking at, but there are pieces of evidence that are in our possession that we are reevaluating and going to process thoroughly to try to build a stronger case,” Ortiz said.
Perez was one of three teens in Santa Fe who was slain in the summer of 2020. Police and prosecutors have said they believe he was part of a group known as the Southside Goons. Court records say witnesses told police a brief confrontation erupted between Perez and a member of an opposing “gang” before the shooting that killed him and injured Hernandez.
According to the criminal complaint on Wednesday’s drive-by shooting, officers obtained surveillance video showing a red pickup drove through the neighborhood before stopping in front a home. Several gunshots rang out and the vehicle drove away.
Investigators found several .45-caliber bullet casings on the street along with bullet holes in the side of the home and a vehicle parked in the driveway.
A resident told police he had received texts and calls from Hernandez earlier that day but was “not forthcoming with information” about what might have motivated Hernandez to shoot at the home, the complaint stated.
Officers found a red truck in front of an apartment complex on Paseo del Sol that matched the truck in the surveillance video. The truck, registered to Hernandez’s mother, had several spent casings in the driver’s seat, the complaint said.
When officers spoke with Hernandez’s mother, she said the family’s home had been burglarized and ransacked earlier that day, but she had not reported the incident to police.
In an interview with officers, Hernandez gave a similar account.
Police found an empty magazine, an empty box of .45-caliber ammunition, a disassembled 9 mm firearm and 9 mm ammunition in the home.