Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico arrested a former city council candidate for his involvement in Monday’s shooting that critically wounded a protester.
31-year-old Steven Ray Baca was taken into custody Tuesday (June 16) and charged with battery with a deadly weapon with a firearm enhancement after he allegedly shot one demonstrator who tried to take down the statue of conquistador Juan de Oñate.
The shooting took place when protesters and members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, a group of heavily armed civilians, clashed as the latter tried to protect the monument.
The militia group has been a regular sight at recent Black Lives Matter protests, said the Santa Fe New Mexican.
“For weeks our community has been peacefully protesting against racism. This kind of violence has no place in Albuquerque,” said Mayor Tim Keller at a press conference Tuesday.
The criminal complaint stated that a bystander’s cellphone video showed Baca, the man in the blue shirt and black shorts, defending the statue from the raging protesters before leaving and “interacting with the crowd.” An undercover detective then saw Baca being chased by several demonstrators. He backed away and pulled out a pepper spray from his pocket to “create distance between himself and the crowd.”
“The group appeared to maliciously pursue Steven, with several of the crowd’s individuals striking Steven’s body with their hands and legs,” said the report, through Fox News.
One man then allegedly hit Baca with a skateboard and tackled him on the ground. A second protester, dressed in a black hoodie, took the skateboard and struck Baca again. It was here that Baca allegedly fired four shots, hitting the man in the black hoodie in the torso, said The Daily Beast.
The man, who was later identified as Scott Williams, was transported to a local hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition. Williams suffered multiple wounds to his torso, said police.
Baca was also brought to a hospital where doctors medically cleared him. He reportedly “declined” to give a statement to authorities, according to Fox News.
The Daily Beast pointed out that the criminal complaint “offered no details” why the crowd turned on Barca, but a video obtained by the Albuquerque Journal showed Baca shoving protesters as they made their way to the monument. Baca also “violently pushed” at least one female protester to the ground.