Santa Fe police say they are getting closer to naming a suspect in the fatal May 16 shooting of Juan Soto, 26, at Monica Lucero Park.
Investigators have interviewed about a dozen people with knowledge of the event, and "our suspect pool is narrowing day by day," Lt. Louis Carlos said.
Carlos would not say what police believe led to the shooting but suggested, "It could've been anything from a heist to drugs to gang violence to a feud."
He added that when investigators deal with this "criminal element," getting sworn statements from witnesses can be challenging.
Two of the people questioned by police -- who were at the park off Avenida de las Campanas at the time of the shooting, according to police -- are Gabriel Armendariz, 30, and Ryan Dimas, 22. Both were arrested last week on probation violations.
The terms of Dimas' probation and parole prevent him from associating with felons or doing drugs. State Department of Corrections spokeswoman Rosie Saiz said Dimas is believed to have been in the park when Soto was shot, and that when he was picked up he admitted using heroin.
Dimas, the son of Santa Fe police Officer Mike Dimas, pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges of aggravated battery and trafficking in a controlled substance after the prosecutor dismissed charges of tampering with evidence and receiving a stolen firearm. He pleaded guilty to another charge of trafficking in a controlled substance that year and was released from prison Feb. 15.
Mike Dimas is not involved in the homicide investigation.
According to court records, Armendariz was convicted in 2002 of two felony counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, causing great bodily harm and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery.
A search warrant was filed in state District Court last week for the cellphone belonging to Kenneth Sanchez, who was also wounded that night. According to the warrant, Sanchez, 26, and Soto were parked in a white GMC Jimmy at Monica Lucero Park the night of the shooting. Soto, who was in the driver's seat, got out of the car. Sanchez, 26, heard him shout an obscenity.
"At that time Kenneth said he heard a loud gunshot and saw Juan [Soto] run toward Siringo Road," the warrant says.
Sanchez told police that an unknown male then approached the passenger side of the GMC after shooting at Soto and shot several rounds at him.
"Kenneth said he climbed over to the driver's side of the vehicle and got out and ran toward the park," the warrant says.
But after realizing he had been shot, he returned to his car and drove to his father's house in the 1200 block of Gallegos Lane. Sanchez told police he knocked on his father's door as well as several neighbors' doors, but nobody responded.
Carlos said a woman did call police that night, saying a man was going door to door asking for help. Police arrived and found the GMC with blood inside and bullet holes in the door.
Sanchez told police, according to the warrant, that "an unknown person" took him to the hospital, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Witnesses give other accounts.
A resident who lives near the park heard the gunshots and claimed to see both the white GMC and a white Cadillac with large chrome wheels drive away.
A resident near Sanchez's father's house told police that Sanchez arrived that night and then got into a white Cadillac.
A surveillance video of the parking lot showed that after the light from a cellphone appeared inside the GMC, Sanchez got into the Cadillac and left the area, according to the warrant.
Investigators want to search the cellphone because they believe Sanchez might have called the people in the white Cadillac and that they "may have knowledge of who shot Soto and Sanchez."
Contact Nico Roesler at 986-3089 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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