Arrests made in Albuquerque shooting that prompted governor's unconstitutional carry ban

Arrests made in Albuquerque shooting that prompted governor's unconstitutional carry ban
LightFieldStudios/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County due to “gun violence,” one of the crimes that she cited in defense of her unilateral order suspending the right to carry was the murder of 11-year-old Froylan Villegas, who was shot and killed while his family was leaving an Albuquerque Isotopes baseball game earlier this month.


Grisham offered no evidence at the time that a lawful gun owner or a concealed carry licensee was responsible for the shooting, which also left his cousin Tatiana Villegas paralyzed from the waist down, but blamed legal gun owners all the same. Now police have made two arrests in connection with the shooting, and while there’s still no sign that either suspect was lawfully carrying at the time, it turns out the two men were already on the radar of local law enforcement. In fact, one suspect was behind bars when he was charged with murder.

Jose Romero, 22, and Nathen Garley, 21, were held for the Sept. 6 shooting after an Albuquerque Isotopes game in what appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, Police Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference.

“These cowards thought they were tough,” Medina said in an earlier social media post. “They killed an innocent child.”

Romero was taken into custody on Thursday evening. At the time, he already was wanted for failing to appear in court in connection with alleged drug dealing, Medina said.

Garley was already in custody when he was arrested in connection with the killing. He had been stopped by state police on Sept. 13 while returning from Arizona and authorities found a gun and about 100,000 fentanyl tablets in the car, State Police Chief W. Troy Weisler said at the news conference.

While police initially believed the shooting might have been an act of road rage, Medina now says it was a case of mistaken identity.


Romero and Garley had had an ongoing feud with another man and argued with him during the baseball game. The man drove a white Dodge pickup truck, Gallegos said.

The victims were in a very similar white Dodge truck that pulled out of the stadium parking lot and drove by the truck of the intended target, police said.

“It is our belief that these cowards mixed up the two vehicles and shot into the wrong vehicle,” the police chief said.

“Investigators used cellphone data and social media to track the movements of several individuals,” Gallegos said. “The day after the shooting, the man who was feuding with Romero sent him a message on Instagram indicating they shot at the wrong truck.”

Honestly, it sounds like these guys are two of the reasons why so many lawful gun owners want to have a gun with them for personal protection in Albuquerque these days. I doubt that they would have paid any attention whatsoever to Grisham’s order to begin with, given that they’re also accused of ignoring state and federal drug laws.

If the governor had gotten her way the drug dealers, gang members, carjackers, and armed robbers in Bernalillo County would have had a target-rich environment full of disarmed victims to choose from, while citizens would have been left defenseless and unable to fight back; forced instead to rely on an overworked and understaffed police department to protect them from harm. Thankfully, both local and state police and prosecutors refused to enforce Grisham’s edict, while U.S. District Judge Robert Urias reached the obvious conclusion that Grisham’s order is likely unconstitutional and granted a restraining order barring any agency in the state from enforcing it.


I’m glad to hear that police believe they have the guys responsible for the shooting that stole Froylan Villegas from his family and robbed him of his future, but it’s shameful that Michelle Lujan Grisham tried to tie in lawful gun owners to his senseless murder. Don’t expect the governor to apologize for scapegoating gun owners or the Second Amendment for this heinous crime either. She’s clearly intent on trying to ban her way to safety, and if good people are left defenseless and disarmed as a result, that seems to be just fine with her.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member