On the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 24, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) swiftly responded to reports of gunfire at Coronado Center — a “gun-free zone” — in northeast Albuquerque. The incident occurred shortly before 4 p.m., prompting a significant police presence.
Around 100 officers who were initially monitoring a rally at the Uptown Shopping Area were quickly redirected to Coronado Center upon receiving alerts of shots fired.
Gilbert Gallegos from the Albuquerque Police Department provided updates following the incident, stating, “The suspect is not in custody. To my understanding, they did a foot pursuit, chased him out of the mall, and he was able to escape at this point. We do have a good description. We believe we may have photos later tonight. We’re getting those analyzed and checking with different witnesses who were involved, but at this point, everybody is safe at the mall, everyone is safe in the surrounding area. We don’t believe there’s any kind of threat to the public.”
Another photograph of the suspect:
Witnesses inside the mall described a chaotic scene, with people rushing to safety. Maryah Lovato shared, “We didn’t hear gunshots. We just… everybody piling up, like falling over each other. We thought maybe something, a fight was happening, so we just ran out. We were stressed out, just trying to get to somewhere safe.”
By 4:54 p.m., APD confirmed that there was no active shooter. An off-duty Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputy or lieutenant pursued the offender. While APD had a description of the suspect, they anticipated releasing photos later that evening.
Fortunately, there were no reported injuries, and officers discovered at least one bullet casing at the scene. The firearm used in the shooting was not immediately identified.
Crucially, APD clarified that there was no connection between the rally held earlier and the shooting at Coronado Center. The mall, however, remained closed for the remainder of the evening following the incident.
The suspect was later identified as 14-year-old Isaiah Montoya.
Reports indicate that immediately after the shooting, around 3:51 p.m., officers detained a juvenile involved in a confrontation with Montoya. The juvenile revealed a prior friendship with Montoya but mentioned an ongoing dispute over social media. Following a physical altercation at the mall, Montoya allegedly brandished a silver handgun and pursued the juvenile and another individual. The situation escalated as Montoya fired a round outside the mall, causing panic among shoppers and workers.
Surveillance footage and eyewitness accounts, including those of an off-duty Bernalillo County Sheriff’s lieutenant, provided a detailed sequence of events. Montoya, carrying the firearm, initially walked away from the mall entrance but then turned back, firing a shot that struck the building. Additional footage captured Montoya manipulating the handgun outside the mall before fleeing the scene toward Menaul Blvd.
A gun matching Montoya’s firearm was discovered near the mall on November 25th, 2023, and subsequently turned over to the police. A warrant from the Children’s Court approved charges against Montoya, and efforts are underway to apprehend him.
Concerns have been raised regarding the potential culpability of Montoya’s guardians under Bennie’s Law, an anti-gun law recently passed regarding minors getting access to firearms from their parents or legal guardians. The law stipulates that if a child gains access to a negligently stored gun, resulting in harm or death, it constitutes a fourth-degree felony with a possible sentence of up to a year and a half in prison.
The application of the law hinges on whether the child causes harm, turning it into a misdemeanor if no injuries occur. The involvement of Montoya’s guardians in legal proceedings remains unclear at this point. However, despite the law, it appears it has not been a deterrent whatsoever, as crimes involving minors and firearms have gone up since its passage.