Man in ‘critical but stable’ condition according to police, after group of armed men clashed with protesters over statue of Juan de Onate
A man was shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday night as protesters tried to tear down a bronze statue of a Spanish conquistador outside the city museum. Authorities later announced that the statue would be removed until next steps could be determined.
The man was in a “critical but stable” condition, police said.
The FBI confirmed it was assisting local authorities. The Albuquerque police department said it received reports of vigilante groups possibly instigating violence, though it was not certain who was responsible for the shooting.
A group of armed men had tried to protect the statue, a bronze of Spanish conquistador Juan de Onate around which protesters wrapped a chain which they began pulling while chanting: “Tear it down.” One protester repeatedly swung a pickaxe at the base of the statue.
Moments later, gunshots could be heard.
Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said police used teargas and flash bangs to protect officers who intervened and detained some members of the public. Armed militia men were disarmed and taken into custody.
“The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. “Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us.
“Our hearts go out to the victim, his family and witnesses whose lives were needlessly threatened tonight. This sculpture has now become an urgent matter of public safety”.