ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) – State police have arrested two more suspects – both teenage girls – in connection with a fatal shooting that mistakenly targeted a vehicle traveling along a busy New Mexico corridor, authorities said Wednesday.
The arrests of the 16- and 17-year-old girls late Tuesday come in addition to four other arrests earlier this week of people that police say are linked to the shooting that killed 18-year-old Cameron Martinez along State Route 68, just north of Espanola. The town, where Martinez recently graduated high school, is situated near the halfway mark between Santa Fe and Taos.
He and three others were found inside a car near the Ohkay Hotel Casino on the night of Oct. 4, all suffering from gunshot wounds, authorities said. The three other victims, who include a male and two females, are expected to survive their injuries.
The group had been traveling north when they were struck by gunfire, police said. One of the shooting suspects, 22-year-old Mark Hice, later told officers that he had feared the car with Martinez inside of it might be carrying people “who were out to get him,” but he was mistaken, according to state police.
Hours before Martinez was shot, Hice had opened fire on a black SUV that he said had been chasing him, state police said. No injuries were reported in that shooting.
A couple driving in a truck caught between Hice’s car and the SUV had called 911 to report the shooting, but state police said the call wasn’t forwarded to notify them of the report.
The two teenage girls identified as suspects in the case and 21-year-old Brittany Garcia, who was arrested Sunday, face charges of conspiracy and tampering with evidence, while Hice, 19-year-old Anton Martinez and a 17-year-old boy from Espanola have been jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder and other charges.
The Associated Press does not typically name minors who have been charged with a crime. Court records did not yet list attorneys for the suspects.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Cameron Martinez was remembered at a memorial service at his former high school Tuesday night as a humorous, well-respected teen who wanted to improve his community. Espanola is nestled in a valley that separates the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges, and it is home to about 10,000 people.
Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is the state’s Democratic nominee for governor, on Friday called Martinez a “remarkable young man” who had recently started working at Los Alamos National Lab. He had appeared recently in a campaign ad for her that centered on the tenuous opportunities for youths in the state.
Titled “Two Paths,” the 30-second spot aimed to highlight the educational path of an apparently fictional New Mexico boy. At the end, it asks whether he will go to college or technical school, or face an uncertain future.
Census figures from the American Community Survey show the average individual income is about $19,000 in Espanola, well below the national average of roughly $32,000, while FBI figures show the city had the state’s highest violent crime rate last year.
Martinez appears prominently in the commercial, though he is only seen from the back. James Hallinan, a campaign spokesman for Lujan Grisham, confirmed Martinez’s role in it.