Most Crimes on the Rise in Santa Fe

SFPD arrest shooter as most crimes rise in Santa Fe

Santa Fe Police last night arrested Salvador Sanchez Reyes, 41, after an incident early Monday afternoon in which he allegedly fired a gun at his ex-girlfriend near Las Acequias Park. According to a news release, the victim told officers she was in the neighborhood to visit a friend when she saw Sanchez Reyes in a vehicle and rolled down her window. She alleges Sanchez Reyes then “opened fire with a gun, shooting in her direction,” and chased her in his vehicle, firing the gun at her again (Officers saw numerous projectile impacts from gunfire on her vehicle). The gunfire prompted multiple calls to the Santa Fe Regional Emergency Communications Center, causing a large police turnout to the area. There were no injuries. An investigator subsequently reached Sanchez Reyes by telephone, but the latter hung up when informed he was facing criminal charges. Those charges: aggravated assault on a household member with a deadly weapon; shooting at or from a motor vehicle; and negligent use of a firearm. State Police and Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Officers arrested Sanchez Reyes on I-25 by the rest area near La Bajada without incident and he was expected to be booked into the Santa Fe County jail.

As for crime in the City Different, Police Chief Paul Joye is slated to present the city’s August crime stats to the Public Safety Committee today during its 4 pm meeting. Those stats show a year-to-date increase of approximately 20% in assault charges (and a 14% drop from July). Robberies and burglaries/breaking and entering increased significantly in August over July—close to 67% and just over 49%, respectively and are up 64% and 77.6% over last year. A crime map shows those burglaries occurring throughout the city. Motor vehicle thefts were up almost 18% in August compared with July, and up almost 57% compared to last year. There have been five homicides so far in 2022 compared to six last year. Homicide and arson are the only listed crimes that have declined since last year (View all the crime maps here).

State Supreme Court upholds habitual offender ruling

The state Supreme Court yesterday ruled defendants must be “reasonably informed” when a plea agreement for multiple offenses could result in additional prison time if they violate probation during the probationary period. The split decision affirms a 12th Judicial District judge’s decision to lengthen the sentence of Christina Banghart-Portillo because of probation violations after her release from prison in 2016 when she was just over halfway through a three-year probationary period. According to a news release, Banghart-Portillo pleaded no contest to two felonies: evidence tampering and conspiracy to commit evidence tampering. She and Anthony Banghart were arrested in 2014 because they had outstanding warrants. After being booked, a dispatcher saw Banghart-Portillo attempt to swallow a plastic bag of heroin. She then admitted at a sentencing hearing to having two prior felony convictions, potentially adding four years of prison for each of the offenses. Prosecutors agreed to seek enhancement for only one prior felony, which added one year to each of her sentences. The three years of probation followed her incarceration. The majority opinion says the district court specifically informed Banghart-Portillo “if she admitted to both prior felonies, a probation violation would result in a four-year habitual offender enhancement on each of her counts, totaling eight additional years of incarceration,” and that “this clarification occurred on more than one occasion.” Nonetheless, both the “majority and dissenting opinions emphasized the importance and need for clarity in plea agreements,” the news release notes.

NM offers new child care options for state employees

Two new child care facilities will provide close to 100 additional spots for state workers’ children, and represent a 2% increase in licensed child care availability in Santa Fe, according to a news release from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office. The governor held a ribbon-cutting yesterday for one of those facilities at the Joseph Montoya Building, where state employees from five different state agencies work. A second facility will open this week in the Lamy Building. Little Explorers Child Development Centers, which currently operates centers in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, will serve as the provider for both state facilities. “The model we’re using at these facilities is what we hope to see more of around the state,” ECECD Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky said in a statement. “We are already funding over a dozen local early childhood coalitions throughout New Mexico to help build strong collaboration between state and local government, the private sector and nonprofits.” Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, many New Mexico families struggled to find and afford early childhood education and child care options, as detailed in this 2016 Atlantic magazine story, and the pandemic worsened the situation. In July of 2021, the state expanded its Child Care Assistance Program, doubling eligibility for families from 200% of the federal poverty level to as much as 400%. The Nov. 8, 2022 ballot will include a constitutional amendment, which, if approved, would increase by 1.25% the state’s Land Grand Permanent Fund distribution to education, resulting in approximately $150 million in new funding available for early childhood education (among other programs), according to New Mexico Voices for Children.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Sept. 19New cases: 558 (includes the weekend); 616,125 total cases; Deaths: six; Santa Fe County has had 349 total deaths; there have been 8,521 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 77. Patients on ventilators: six; According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent “community levels” map, which updates on Thursdays, all of New Mexico is currently “green,” and has low case and hospitalization rates.Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Santa Fe Institute’s Ulam Memorial Lecture series takes place at 7:30 pm tonight and tomorrow (Sept. 20-21), with applied mathematician Steven Strogatz, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University. For the first lecture, “The Story of Calculus,” Strogatz “illustrates the fantastic idea at the heart of calculus—an idea that, in partnership with medicine, philosophy, science and technology, reshaped the course of civilization and helped make the world modern.” In the second, “The Story of Sync,” he discusses “how our understanding of synchronization has evolved over the centuries,” along with new discoveries and unsolved problems. The lectures are free and can be attended singularly or together. Tickets via The Lensic Performing Arts Center, or view on SFI’s YouTube channel (where they will be available both as livestreams and recordings).

On the beaten track

“Living in the Land of New Mexico Chiles,” a story by Karin Pezo for the East-West News Service, received a silver award in the recently announced 2021-2022 Society of American Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. Pezo’s story placed in the contest’s Coverage of Diverse Communities category. Santa Fe-based Outside magazine led the pack with 12 awards, followed by the New York Times and Travel + Leisure magazine. And speaking of travel writing and New Mexico, the Discover Blog includes Santa Fe in its list of “Five Underrated State Capitals.” We’re not sure exactly what qualifies Santa Fe as underrated but, at any rate, Discover Blog writes: “If you want a place where you can breathe in the crystal-clear mountain air, enjoy a huge array of outdoors sports and learn and discover Native American culture, then Santa Fe is for you! " Discover Blog also includes Ruidoso, New Mexico on its list of “Nine Underrated US Towns.” And US News & World Report recommends Albuquerque in its “32 Top Cheap Weekend Getaways in the US” story, recommending travelers visit during the spring or fall to take advantage of both the weather and the myriad festivals, including the New Mexico Wine Festival and Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Oct. 1-9).

Fair game

San Francisco author and journalist Rachel Levin hunkers down at Ted Turner’s Raton, New Mexico eco-ranch, Vermejo, in a story for Bon Appétit magazine titled, “I Eat Meat. Why Was Killing My Own Food So Hard?” The trip is not a vacation, Levin writes, “but a new forest-to-table workshop aimed at women who know little to nothing about hunting—nor possess the things required to try it, other than an open mind, a tough stomach, and deep pockets.” The workshop also creates a “safe” and “supportive environment for people without hunting experience” and “makes it possible to breeze into northern New Mexico, ignorant and inexperienced, and leave six days later a new woman in a way, with purple elk steaks in her carry-on.” While the number of hunters has declined over the years, the pandemic provided a boost to the activity and now “rugged 101 camps” are on the rise for “coastal elites” (self-described in Levin’s case). She’s not part of the 1% in California who has a hunting license—she actually wrote a book about how to avoid wildlife encounters. The story offers a blow-by-blow of Levin’s bonding experience at Vermejo, along with her musings on hunting, guns, climate change and the like.

Warm & breezy

The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance for showers and thunderstorms today after noon, rising to 50% this evening before midnight. Otherwise, today will be mostly sunny with a high temperature near 79 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! As soon as possible this morning, The Word will be listening to Episode 13 of Serial after yesterday’s remarkable events in Adnan Syed’s case (and she’s going to read this interview with Sarah Koenig).

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