New year starts with a scuffle


It wasn’t a very wild weekend, as far as New Year’s weekends go, according to the Socorro Police Department, with only two incidents that stood out from a background of traffic stops, 20 citations issued and five DWI arrests.

Chief George Van Winkle said one man was brought to the emergency room at Socorro General Hospital at about 5:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 2, with a gun shot wound that may have been accidentally self-inflicted.

According to the police report, an officer was dispatched to the hospital about 11 a.m. and spoke with an ER nurse who said the man was brought in early in the morning by two male friends. He had a gun shot wound to the left leg, below the knee. The report said the nurse told police that the man’s friends said they had been with him in a house, and had gone outside to smoke cigarettes when they heard the shot. When they went back in the house, they found him in the kitchen, bleeding.

“It could have been accidental, or it might not have been,” Assistant Police Chief Mike Winders said. “We’re trying to find out.”

The report said a bullet was found in the hospital parking lot.

“We’re not sure if it’s related or not,” Winders said.

It was not clear from what was told to hospital staff where the incident occurred, or in whose house, and not yet known if there were any other people present at the time.

Winders said the bullet may have hit an artery, and the man was transported to a hospital in Albuquerque.

“We’ll wait for him to get out of intensive care and then we’ll interview him,” Van Winkle said. “We have Det. (Rocky) Fernandez out canvassing the neighborhood where the man lives, but we don’t know for sure where it happened.”

The other incident that stood out was an altercation that happened at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, at a New Year’s Eve party at the Garcia Opera House, when a disagreement broke out between a few of the 100 or so people at the party and spilled out into the parking lot.

Winders said there weren’t a lot of cars in the parking lot, and police were keeping an eye out for possible trouble, but it was quiet all night until the incident.

“No arrests have been made yet,” Winders said. “One person was transported to the hospital and treated, but the incident is under investigation.”

Winders said a closed pocket knife was found in the snow, but no one was stabbed, and it’s not known who the knife belongs to.

“It could have fallen out of someone’s pocket,” Winders said. “There was only one injury, and we think he just twisted his knee.”

Van Winkle said 15 officers were on duty New Year’s Eve, and 12 arrests were made. Five of the arrests were DWIs, with four of the people arrested believed to be first time offenders. Four people were arrested on bench warrants, one was arrested for public intoxication, and another was cited for disorderly conduct.

One other citation involved alcohol and elk urine. Winders said the incident originated at Walmart, in the hunting and sporting goods section, when someone squirted elk urine, which is sold as a hunting lure to stimulate the interest of rutting bulls.

“That’s how the police got involved,” Winders said. “One of the kids had been drinking.”

Winders said one person was charged with allowing alcohol to be served to a minor, because the youth in question was not yet 21.

“There were a whole lot of arrests, but not what I’d call a wild New Year’s,” Winder said. “There’ve been a lot wilder ones, with fights and pursuits.”

Van Winkle said his officers were kept busy and made a lot of traffic stops, but all in all things went well.

“Nobody got killed, no one was seriously injured,” Van Winkle said. “That’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.”


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