Santa Fe police said Tuesday that they haven't charged local artist Mateo Romero in connection with Friday's shooting incident at a north-side convenience store, in which a stray bullet struck a bystander.
Sgt. Andrea Dobyns said the case was forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for review. She said police didn't plan to arrest Romero or officially charge him because investigators lack a victim willing to cooperate in helping to prove intent.
Romero told police that a homeless man approached him outside Allsup's, 305 N. Guadalupe St., at about 6:22 p.m. Friday and slammed his hand against the hood of Romero's blue Chevy Camaro, Dobyns said.
Romero told police that in self-defense, he pulled out a black semi-automatic handgun from inside his car, thinking that he could be robbed of the $300 cash that also was inside his vehicle, Dobyns said.
Dobyns said Romero fired a "warning shot" at the homeless man's feet. However, the bullet ricocheted up and hit a 24-year-old man using a nearby pay phone.
After being struck by the stray bullet, the bystander allegedly confronted Romero, threatening that he also had a gun. "That's why Romero said he drove away," Dobyns said.
Dobyns said the homeless man was uncooperative when interviewed by police and didn't want to be involved in the case.
"Without a true victim with proof of intent, it's really hard to charge," Dobyns said.
"Mr. Romero was fully compliant, turned himself in and was interviewed following the incident," Dobyns said.
The bystander, who was treated at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center for injuries that were not life-threatening, has cooperated with police, who aren't releasing his name, Dobyns said.
Romero is a well-known painter who makes realistic images of ceremonial dances, as well as more abstract works such as lithographs and mixed-media paintings. His work has been featured in the Santa Fe Indian Market for 23 years, and one of his paintings was chosen as the 2008 Indian Market poster.
The son of Cochiti Pueblo watercolorist Santiago Romero, he was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Phone calls to Mateo Romero at his Pojoaque home were not returned Tuesday.
Contact Nico Roesler at 986-3089 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nicoroesler.
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