Bar fight starts feud

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The Socorro Police Department prevented bloodshed the night of Dec. 1 when they answered a call to clear a pack of trouble makers out of a resident’s yard.

SPD detective Sgt. Richard Lopez said although the men have gang ties, the victim, a Socorro man who lives on Main Street, was not afraid of them. Lopez said most people are intimidated by these kind of people, but the victim — whom Lopez has known a long time and who is “armed to the teeth” — is not one.

“He actually told our dispatcher, ‘Your officers better get over here and get these guys off my property or I’m going to start taking them out,’” Lopez said. “And he probably would have. It was just a matter of time.”

Lopez said the victim considered the men “punks” and probably would have killed a few of them if police hadn’t shown up — “and they went down there asking for it.” Instead, four Socorro men were arrested for unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct and resisting officers.

Lopez said it all started with a fight at a bar in town between the victim and another Socorro man.

Police blotters report an officer responded to a fight call at the bar about 9 p.m. The two men both denied starting the fight, but one refused to calm down and was arrested. The other man, the Main Street victim, was ticketed for the bar fight.

Lopez said the group gathered in the victim’s yard were friends of the man who wouldn’t calm down after the bar fight.

“I guess you could say they … were going to try to jump him (the victim) or something,” Lopez said.

He said many of the people trying to fight the victim that night have ties with Sureños 13, one of the largest criminal street gangs in the nation. The gang has been featured on the History Channel’s “Gangland” cable television series. Lopez said they often refer to themselves as SUR 13, which stands for “Southern United Race.” He added police can’t say all of the men picking a fight with the victim are gang members, but all are affiliated with the Sureños.

Police reports state officers were dispatched to the victim’s Main Street residence about 10:35 p.m. regarding people starting a fight over an earlier fight that happened at El Camino Bar. The first officer at the scene noticed several men in front of the home, along with a white SUV and a brown pickup. As the officer left his patrol unit, the men took off running. The officer identified two of the runners as Lawrence Silva and Scott Chew.

“Police — stop running,” the officer said to all of them, according to the police report, but they continued running.

“F@#!- you,” a man in a white muscle shirt replied, and kept running.

The officer pursued the man in the white muscle shirt on foot, according to the report. The man ran behind a residence and jumped a fence, falling to the ground. The officer told the man to stay on the ground, but the man jumped up and to flee again. That was when the officer deployed his OC spray, or pepper spray, and told the man to get on the ground.

Once more the man defied the officer, the report states, so the officer sprayed the man with the pepper spray. The man then started to turn in circles. The officer took the man to the ground and placed him in handcuffs, then escorted him back to the police car and called for an ambulance to treat him for the pepper spray. Medics arrived and treated the man, who was identified as Adan Lujan.

The officer read Lujan his Miranda rights, then asked him what was going on. According to the police report, Lujan told the officer he was going for a ride with his friends and they went to the victim’s residence to see what had happened between the victim and the other man who was fighting with him at the bar, to see what was up between them. The officer asked if it was related to gangs or any biker gangs, and Lujan allegedly replied, “Yup, I’m from Southside.”

Detective Lopez explained the Sureños, or “southerners,” are the most common gang members found in the Socorro area and in the Southwest. He said very seldom are members of other major gangs seen here. He said there are also Norteños, or “northerners,” in New Mexico, but they generally flock farther north. He said the last two victims murdered within the city limits of Socorro were Norteños members.

“A Norteño doesn’t stand a very good chance here,” Lopez said.

Lopez said there is not much gang activity in Socorro anymore. He said during the 1990s the area was very active with street gangs, but much of their activity has been broken up since then.

The police report states that after his Southside comment, no further questions were asked of Lujan and the officer called for a tow of the white SUV. While doing the tow inventory for the SUV, the officer found a leather Poor Boy jacket with the name “Thirteen” in the vehicle, along with a sledge hammer. The officer transported Lujan to SPD to complete paperwork, then on to the Socorro County Detention Center where Lujan was booked.

Two other officers assisted in apprehending the running suspects. The second officer dispatched to the victim’s Main Street residence was advised en route that the group took off running when the first officer showed up. According to the second officer’s report, when he arrived on scene the first officer had Lujan in custody and said the rest of the group ran toward the railroad tracks.

The second officer began patrolling the area to find the other running suspects. He was joined by a third officer, and they found three men walking north on the ditch bank above Lemitar Lane not far from the scene at the victim’s home. The officers met with them, according to police reports, and identified them as Lawrence Silva, Scott Chew and Henry Padilla.

The second officer knew that Silva had a warrant for his arrest stemming from an incident earlier that night, so the officer handcuffed Silva to detain him and ran his information through the National Crime Information Center database to confirm it. According to police blotters, a Socorro woman reported about 7:10 p.m. that Silva allegedly broke the window on the front door to her residence, causing $200 worth of damage.

The NCIC check confirmed Silva’s warrant. According to the police report, the officer searched Silva and found four Baggies of green stuff in the left inside pocket of his jacket. Silva was arrested and taken to SPD for paperwork, then booked into jail.

The third officer, according to his report, asked Padilla where he was coming from, and Padilla answered Main Street. Padilla added he was just standing in front of the Main Street house and was not involved in the fight with the victim. When asked why he left the victim’s yard, Padilla said he was “going for a stroll,” according to the report. Padilla was then taken to SPD for paperwork and booked into jail.

The officer also visited with Chew and ran his information through NCIC, which came back showing a bench warrant, according to the police report. The officer arrested Chew.

A fourth officer was dispatched to the victim’s residence about 8 a.m. the next day regarding a knife found in the yard, according to the police report. The victim said some people came to his house to fight with him the night before, and he believes the knife belonged to one of them as it was not his. The officer took the knife and placed it into evidence at the police department.