Explosion In Albuquerque Kills 1, Bernalillo County Settling Lawsuits Over Shooting

Feb 4, 2019

1 Dead After Explosion Rocks Strip Mall In New MexicoAssociated Press

One person was found dead Monday after an explosion in an alley behind a strip mall in Albuquerque, New Mexico, police said. The cause of the blast was not immediately known.

Businesses in the west side mall were evacuated after the early afternoon explosion.

No other injuries were reported. Police spokesman Simon Drobik did not immediately release the name of the person who died. He said he did not know if the person was an employee or a customer at one of the businesses in the strip mall.

Police officers blocked off the mall, which includes a grocery store, pharmacy and other businesses.

Juan Pablo, a worker at one of the businesses, said the explosion rocked the building.

"I was in the backroom getting a phone for a customer right when I heard everything go off," Pablo told KOB-TV. "It shook the windows."

Firefighters happened to be at the location when they heard a loud noise and investigated.

1 Person Dead After Unidentified Explosion In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

Police say one person is dead after an unidentified explosion in an alley behind a strip mall in Albuquerque.

They say businesses in the area were evacuated after the explosion Monday afternoon.

The police department's bomb squad is at the scene and investigating the incident.

No other injuries have been reported.

The name of the person who died wasn't immediately released.

Police have blocked off the entire strip mall which includes a grocery store, pharmacy and several other businesses near Coors and Central.

New Mexico Governor Approves Previously Vetoed InitiativesAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed 42 bills that were vetoed by her Republican predecessor.

The bills signed into law on Monday span issues from teacher pensions to child foster care and public disclosures by lobbyists.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf said at a bill signing ceremony that there have never been so many bills approved in so little time. The legislature convened Jan. 15. Both Republican and Democratic legislators attended the ceremony to applaud the bill approvals.

The signed bills would close a loophole that allowed lobbyists to buy politicians meals and drinks of up to $100 without disclosure. Another bill would boost pensions for teachers with good work attendance. First priority will go to relatives' homes when children are placed in foster care.

New Mexico Lawmakers Consider Tax On E-CigarettesAssociated Press

The New Mexico Legislature is considering whether to impose taxes on e-cigarettes and restrict where they can be used.

Proposed legislation scheduled for its first hearing Monday would include e-cigarettes in the definition of tobacco products and at the same time increase taxes on those products.

A bill from Democratic state Reps. Andrea Romero of Santa Fe and Liz Thomson of Albuquerque would nearly double taxes on most 20-packs of cigarettes to $3.16, and increase excise taxes on other tobacco products from 25 percent to 76 percent.

A separate bill would prohibit vaping in areas where traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited.

U.S. health officials recently announced an epidemic in e-cigarette use among youths. Recent U.S. figures show e-cigarette products are now the top high-risk substance used by teens.

Pentagon Sending Another 3,750 Troops To Southwest BorderAssociated Press

The Pentagon says it will send 3,750 more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to put up another 150 miles of concertina wire and provide other support for Customs and Border Protection.

The additions announced Sunday will bring the total number of active-duty troops on the border to 4,350.

The announcement is in line with what Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan had said on Tuesday when he provided estimates for the next phase of a military mission that critics have derided as a political ploy by the White House.

Shanahan said several thousand more troops would be sent mainly to install additional wire barriers and provide a large new system of mobile surveillance and monitoring of the border area. Sunday's announcement said the mobile surveillance mission would last through Sept. 30.

Bernalillo County To Settle Lawsuits In Deadly 2017 ShootingKRQE-TV, Associated Press

Bernalillo County will pay almost $2 million to settle a series of lawsuits stemming from a deputy's 2017 fatal shooting of two unarmed suspects.

KRQE-TV reports the county will make a $1.75 million payout to resolve litigation in the shooting that resulted in the deaths of driver Isaac Padilla and passenger Martin Jim.

Authorities say Deputy Joshua Mora, the undersheriff's son, pursued a stolen vehicle in November 2017.

The chase ended with Mora fatally shooting the two men.

Mora had said he feared for the safety colleagues when Padilla revved the engine after being cornered.

He declined to comment when reached by the news station.

The incident sparked calls for body cameras, which Sheriff Manuel Gonzales has refused to use.

His department has faced lawsuits in other deadly force cases.

Rep. Torres Small: Says 'I Seek Border Fixes, Not Media Attention' - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico says she doesn't mind not getting as much attention as other freshmen in Congress because she has other goals.

The freshman Democratic congresswoman from southern New Mexico told The Associated Press she wants to find solutions to issues along the U.S.-Mexico border and is not "trying to be the loudest."

Since winning a closely watched election, Torres Small has been overshadowed in media by the likes of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Boston. Both have pushed for the federal government to defund U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Torres Small says she's honored to serve among a diverse set of representatives but thinks immigration authorities should have more resources and more oversight.

'Record-Breaking' Home Sales Seen In New Mexico's Oil Region - Hobbs Sun-News, Associated Press

Realtors in the heart of New Mexico's booming oil country say home sales broke records last year and that could spell more housing shortages.

The Hobbs Sun-News reports real estate agents reported record sales in 2018 with a median home price of $165,000 in Lea County.

Robbie Robinson of Robinson and Associates Real Estate and Laura Davis of United Realty both claimed 2018 as a record-breaking year in home sales for their respective agencies.

Bobby Shaw of Burkett-Shaw Realtors says research shows the total value of homes sold in 2018 was $107.1 million compared to $83.1 million in 2017.

Shaw says it was $81.6 million in 2016.

The numbers come as officials in southeastern New Mexico worry about a housing shortage for workers employed in the state's lucrative oil industry.

New Mexico To Lead Trade Delegations To Germany, Mexico - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico has announced it is leading trade delegations to Germany and Mexico as the state's Santa Teresa border region sees its exports rise.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Economic Development Department and the New Mexico Trade Alliance are hosting trips to trade shows and offering grants to help businesses.

The state in March will lead trade delegations to a trade fair for hunting, shooting sports and equipment for outdoor activities in Nuremburg, Germany. In addition, New Mexico will take a delegation for a solar power event in Mexico City.

A delegation also will travel to Germany in April for a trade show on industrial technology.

Video Game Startup Ganymede Games To Open Las Cruces Studio - Associated Press

Video game startup Ganymede Games has announced it will open a new studio in Downtown Las Cruces and create 50 jobs over the next five years.

New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes said last week the games studio will invest more than $1.3 million in building and infrastructure improvements to their headquarters in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The company's move to Las Cruces is supported by $250,000 in Local Economic Development Act funding from the state, and another $100,000 in LEDA money from the city of Las Cruces.

The company's founders, Lynn Stetson and Jerry Prochazka, previously worked together at Riot Games, the developer best known for the "League of Legends" multiplayer battle arena game for PC and Macintosh computers.

New Mexico Ceremony Marks 'Horrible' Discovery Of Bodies - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

Ten years ago, police in New Mexico began unearthing the remains of 11 women and an unborn child found buried on Albuquerque's West Mesa, marking the start of a massive homicide investigation that remains open.

A group of advocates and community members gathered Saturday to remember the victims and call for more protections for marginalized and vulnerable women in New Mexico's largest city.

"It's really a sad and horrible anniversary," said Christine Barber, executive director of Street Safe New Mexico, a nonprofit that seeks to boost safety for women who live and work on Albuquerque streets.

The event was staged near the site where the makeshift graves were discovered in 2009.

The deaths have resulted in no arrests.

Annual Mexican Wolf Survey Coming In New Mexico, Arizona - Associated Press

A low-flying helicopter will buzz over parts of western New Mexico  and eastern Arizona over two weeks starting Feb. 7 as biologists undertake their annual Mexican wolf population survey and capture.

The flights around Reserve, New Mexico, and Alpine, Arizona, are part of the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project, a cooperative effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

A Friday news release about the survey said there were a minimum of 114 wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona at the end of 2017.

The winter survey creates a snapshot of the Mexican wolf population for agencies making decisions on their future.

2 State Police Officers Struck While Investigating Crash - Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say two of its officers were struck by a car while investigating a crash near Las Cruces.

The agency says both officers were treated for non-life threatening injuries after a passing vehicle truck them while they investigated a crash on U.S. 70 northeast of the city on Saturday.

It's unclear if the driver who struck them was arrested. Police said they would have more information later.