SUV drives into Indigenous parade in Gallup, injuring 15
An SUV drove through a parade during a celebration of Native American heritage and culture in Gallup Thursday night. Fifteen people were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, including two police officers. No one was killed in the incident.
Police said the driver and two passengers were fleeing from officers after being reported for drinking alcohol along the parade route during the Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial.
The SUV sped down the middle of the parade as participants and spectators scattered.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said at a news conference Friday that his fellow parade-goers were among the “many heroes” who helped prevent more injury from occurring.
“For telling our people to get out of the way, pushing people off the roads,” he said. “Some of us were screaming at the top of our lungs to clear the road and help our citizens.”
New Mexico State Police Lt. Mark Soriano said that before the occupants were apprehended, the SUV struck two Gallup police officers. He told KUNM that some of the injured pedestrians were also hit by the vehicle, but that the number who were struck — rather than injured while fleeing — is still under investigation.
The incident occurred a month after a shooter killed seven and injured dozens at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said at Friday’s briefing that, while not minimizing what happened in Gallup, “We don’t have a hate-motivated— a copycat shooting, mass-violence incident. That did not occur.”
Police said the driver, 33 year-old Jeff Kenn Irving of nearby Pinedale, is facing charges including aggravated DWI, aggravated fleeing, one count of an accident involving great bodily harm and 14 counts of an accident involving personal injuries. Court records show he’s also charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
Organizers of the 10-day event, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, said they will move forward as planned with additional security measures.
Lujan Grisham said the state is deploying a behavioral health crisis team to the area to support those who experienced trauma, with details forthcoming.