The Santa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a double homicide in the Valle Vista subdivision in Santa Fe County, and deputies issued an arrest warrant Wednesday night for a suspect possibly involved in the fatal shooting.
Deputies are looking for Joe Rivera, 18, in connection with the slayings during a Christmas night gathering. A $1 million cash-only bond has been set for the man, who is 5-foot-5 and weighs 148 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes, and deputies said he is considered armed and dangerous.
Deputies responded to a report of gunshots fired at 11 p.m. Tuesday, during a gathering at a home on Valle Vista Court off N.M. 14 near the Penitentiary of New Mexico.
The sheriff’s office said John Griego, 23, was pronounced dead at the scene, and Nicholas Baker, 29, was transported to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and was pronounced dead on arrival.
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, sheriff’s deputies still had the neighborhood closed off as state police processed the crime scene. Several onlookers, who declined to speak with The New Mexican, stood behind police lines.
Rick Baker, who was driving through the neighborhood, said Nicholas Baker was his nephew. “He was just getting his life back on track,” Rick Baker said.
Rick Baker also said Nicholas Baker had a 13-year-old daughter, but that she wasn’t with him at the time of his death.
According to the New Mexico courts website, Nicholas Baker had pleaded guilty to a charge of assault on a household member in 2002.
Capt. Adan Mendoza of the sheriff’s office said Griego was a resident at the house where the men were killed. He also said the two were friends.
Ariel Rodriguez, who lives in the Valle Vista neighborhood, said he was watching TV on Tuesday night when he heard gunshots. He said his son had just gotten home at the time, and that he had seen someone running down the street. Rodriguez added that he has lived in the neighborhood for many years, and that it’s generally quiet.
Both victims suffered fatal gunshot wounds. It appears an altercation took place among a group of people, which may have led to the shooting. Mendoza said there was alcohol at gathering, but he didn’t know if that led to the violence.
Detectives were interviewing witnesses Wednesday and attempting to locate other witnesses. As of 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, Mendoza said they had identified some persons of interest. He added that the sheriff’s office was working on issuing arrest warrants.
Contact Chris Quintana at 986-3093 or firstname.lastname@example.org.