Ute Fire Smoke Becomes Hazard, Suspects In Dixon Killings Named

Jun 2, 2018

Ute Fire Smoke Becomes Hazard– Associated Press, KUNM News

Authorities say a wildfire burning in a forested area of northeastern New Mexico is threatening nearly 300 homes and creating hazardous air quality conditions.

The National Weather Service issued an air quality warning Friday urging people in areas with under one mile of visibility to stay indoors unless under mandatory evacuation. 

The blaze on Friday had charred more than 25 square miles since igniting a day earlier. The flames were spreading quickly through grasslands and ponderosa pine thanks to hot, dry and windy conditions.

The communities of Ute Park and Cimarron have been evacuated. Roads are closed throughout the area. Officials have reported that 14 empty buildings at the Boy Scouts' Philmont Ranch have been burned.

Forecasters say there is little relief expected and that the massive smoke plume generated by the Ute Park Fire has risen thousands of feet into the air.

Rural, Independent New Mexico Seat Could Tip US House – Associated Press

A sprawling New Mexico congressional district that stretches from the U.S.-Mexico border to oil country near Texas is one of the many districts that could swing control of Congress.

The 2nd District's longtime Republican Congressman Steve Pearce is running for governor, giving Democrats their best opportunity to recapture a seat they haven't won since Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008.

It's the most Hispanic congressional district in the nation's most Hispanic state, and registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans.

But the district's conservative-leaning independents have intricate views on immigration, international trade and oil production, and that makes any election outcome difficult to predict.

The district backed President Donald Trump by roughly 10 percentage points in 2016.

Democrats and Republicans will select candidates Tuesday in the primary elections.

Suspects In Dixon Killings Named – Associated Press

Some residents in a northern New Mexico community say a home where a triple homicide occurred had a reputation as a drug house.

New Mexico State Police on Friday identified the suspects as 34-year-old John Powell of Taos and 33-year-old Roger Gage of Arroyo Hondo.

Police say they are not releasing the names of the victims or details of the Wednesday homicides until the suspects are arrested.

Neighbor Jennifer Rigby told the Santa Fe New Mexican that some Dixon residents had suspected drug use in the home. She says someone had once hand painted "drug house" with an arrow pointing toward the home.

Multiple neighbors say the house had heavy traffic in and out, which fed their assumption.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Maj. Randy Sanchez says the office had not received information indicating any problems at the residence.

Judge Dismisses Murder In Deputy - Deputy Shooting – Associated Press

A judge has dismissed first- and second-degree murder charges against a former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy accused in the 2014 shooting death of a fellow deputy.

District Court Judge Conrad Perea on Thursday dismissed the murder counts against former deputy Tai Chan, meaning he will stand trial in August on a voluntary manslaughter charge.

Two previous trials against Chan in the killing of Deputy Jeremy Martin ended when juries couldn't agree on a verdict.

For Martin's family, Thursday's ruling was perceived as another setback.

According to previous testimony, Chan is accused of shooting Martin in the back as Martin fled during an argument at the hotel where they had stopped on a trip to transport a prisoner to Arizona.

Authorities have said the shooting was preceded by a night of drinking.

Chan has claimed self-defense.

2 New Mexicans killed in crash of small plane – Associated Press

A racehorse trainer from Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and his son were killed when the single-engine airplane they were flying crashed shortly after takeoff in Midland.

In a statement Friday, Ruidoso Downs identified the dead as trainer John M. Cooper and his 16-year-old son, Gavyn Cooper.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the Cirrus SR22 aircraft had just taken off from Midland International Airport about 7:20 p.m. Thursday and was banking left when it crashed and burned.

No cause for the crash was immediately determined, and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.