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Five Democratic politicians' homes or offices have been shot at in Albuquerque

"We're worried and concerned that these are connected and possibly politically motivated or personally motivated," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, left, said of a string of shootings. He's seen here alongside Police Chief Harold Medina during a press conference via the Albuquerque Police Department's Facebook livestream.
Screenshot by NPR
"We're worried and concerned that these are connected and possibly politically motivated or personally motivated," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, left, said of a string of shootings. He's seen here alongside Police Chief Harold Medina during a press conference via the Albuquerque Police Department's Facebook livestream.

Local and state police are working with the FBI in Albuquerque, N.M., to investigate five shootings that have targeted Democratic politicians' homes or offices since in the past month.

Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa, whose home was the first to come under fire, told NPR on Friday that the attacks have been difficult to process, "especially knowing that other women of color elected officials have also been targeted."

In the attacks, multiple rounds have been fired into the doors and walls of buildings — in some cases while elected officials were inside with their families — but no one has been hurt.

"We're grateful that nobody has been injured, but we also realize that we have to move quickly," Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference about the attacks.

His point was underlined by recent events: Authorities had planned to highlight the shootings on Thursday, after a state senator's home was fired at on Tuesday — and then came word of yet more gunfire with a political target, as bullets struck a second state senator's office Thursday morning.

"We do have some leads," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said. He acknowledged the obvious connection of all the victims belonging to the same party, but warned people not to speculate about the violence while evidence still is being gathered.

"We're worried and concerned that these are connected and possibly politically motivated or personally motivated," Keller said. "But we don't know that for a fact."

Timeline of the shootings

Sunday, Dec. 4 — At 4:41 p.m. someone fired eight shots at Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa's home in southeast Albuquerque. "In early December, I returned from Christmas shopping to my home being shot up; it was terrifying," Barboa told NPR on Friday. "My house had four shots through the front door and windows, where just hours before my grandbaby and I were playing in the living room."

Saturday, Dec. 10 — The campaign office in downtown Albuquerque for Raúl Torrez, the state's new attorney general, was shot at in the early morning "after we had already moved out," a campaign representative told NPR, adding that the campaign is working with law enforcement. Police officers collected evidence at the time, and that evidence now is being analyzed for any possible ties to the other shootings in Albuquerque.

Sunday, Dec. 11 — A barrage of gunfire hit the home of then-Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O'Malley in the North Valley area. "More than a dozen gunshot impacts were identified on walls and the house," Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told NPR.

Tuesday, Jan. 3 — The home of state Sen. Linda Lopez was targeted in southwest Albuquerque. "At least eight shots were fired at her home after midnight," Gallegos said. Showing reporters from the Albuquerque Journal multiple bullet holes in her garage, Lopez said it was the first time she experienced "a very personal attack on me and my family."

Thursday, Jan. 5 — Police gunshot-detection sensors registered three shots fired near the downtown law office where state Sen. Antonio "Moe" Maestas works, at 11:41 a.m. Police didn't find any sign of damage. Maestas thanked police via Twitter, saying his family was safe and sound.

Detectives are sifting through video and other evidence

The attacks on elected officials are a top priority for investigators, Medina said at Thursday's news conference, adding that the police are collating evidence, including video collected by intersection cameras and reports by ShotSpotter installations that detect gunfire.

"They will work this nonstop until we can hopefully get this case resolved," Medina said.

The authorities are asking the public for help, hoping residents might send in information about people or vehicles near the attacks, or threats made on social media toward the politicians.

Medina said his department is reaching out to elected officials across Bernalillo County to get a sense of potential safety concerns, and to consider whether law enforcement may need to provide additional security to politicians.

As they discussed the string of attacks, the police and politicians spoke about the bane of gun violence — both in New Mexico and across the U.S.

"Too many of the people I love, my neighbors and our communities, have been impacted by violence like this," Barboa said. "We must do more to end gun violence in and against our communities."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.