Thursday, May 27, 2010

Police: Assault On Tech Employee Called Random Act Of Violence

By John Larson

SOCORRO - A medical fund had been set up for the victim of what Socorro police are investigating as a random act of violence that occurred Sunday, May 16 in the 700 block of School of Mines Road.
According a police report, a New Mexico Tech employee was walking in the vicinity of School of Mines and Gurdon Ave. shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday when she was approached by three males. The police report said that the three males walked up to her and one of them suddenly punched her in the face, breaking her glasses, and then ran off.
Detective Richard Lopez said the victim was bleeding badly from her left eye when officers arrived. An ambulance was immediately called and she was transported to Socorro General Hospital.
The Mountain Mail is withholding the victim’s name out of respect for her privacy.
“We don’t have a positive ID on the suspect, but the investigation is still very much open,” Lopez said. “We have every reason to believe this was a random attack, and we’re doing all we can to identify the individuals.”
The report stated that the victim could give no description of the males, other than that they were of medium build, but did not know if they were white, Hispanic, or black, and did not have a clothing description. “She did state that they ran east on School of Mines Road,” the report said.
That evening Officer Wes Mauldin began a search for anyone walking in the neighborhood. His search ultimately extended from Leroy to Fifth Street, and from College to Spring Street, including all streets in between.
The following morning, a canvass of residents in the neighborhood provided no new information. Lopez said with little to go on, and no physical evidence, the investigation is difficult although the focus is on young males, possibly teenagers.
“We have questioned and ruled out some individuals, but right now have no ‘person of interest’,” Lopez said. “We have been working closely with campus police Chief Billy Romero on this, as well as on an unrelated incident involving a student a few weeks ago.”
An assault near Jones Hall eight weeks ago caused many on the Tech campus to believe that students were being targeted for attacks. Lopez said, “There is no ‘crime wave’.”
That earlier incident resulted in the arrest of a Socorro man, who is facing a charge of armed incident in District Court. The incident took place at 11:30 p.m. on Mar. 31 near the chiller plant on the New Mexico Tech campus.
The criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court on April 13 stated that three students were approached by three men who demanded their wallets. When one of the students refused, the suspect became angry and punched the student in the face twice, breaking his jaw.
In fear of retaliation, the three students did not report that crime until April 5. After an investigation by both New Mexico Tech and Socorro police departments, Manuel Lee Baca, 25, of Socorro was arrested. His case is being handled by Seventh District Judge Kevin R. Sweazea.
Detective Lopez told the Mountain Mail there was no evidence to link the two assaults.
“We don’t normally see this between people who don’t know each other and in this neighborhood,” Lopez said. “The three who assaulted [the woman] for no reason will eventually be caught.”
Due to the extent of the woman’s injuries, a fund has been started to help with medical expenses at Wells Fargo Bank, 501 California St. in Socorro.
Tech’s Public Information office has forwarded an email to all students and staff, reminding them to take extra safety precautions. It said Campus Police Chief Billy Romero wants all members of the Tech community to know that officers are available around the clock to provide safe transport for Tech students, faculty and staff. At any time, campus officers will provide an escort or give a ride to anyone.
New Mexico Tech administrators continue to meet with city and county agencies to discuss campus security.

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