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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MDT

  • Report: Slain officer wasn't part of plan to stop suspect

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials reportedly arranged with New Mexico State Police to make a traffic stop of a drug trafficker. But an officer not briefed on the plan was fatally shot when he pulled over the man instead of others who were waiting to make the stop. The Albuquerque Journal reports that State Police records into the killing of Officer Darian Jarrott indicated that the officer knew of a "be on the lookout notice" for the trafficker, Omar Cueva. He was killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers soon after Jarrott was killed Feb. 4. Homeland Security Investigations  officials did not immediately respond Saturday to requests for comment.

  • New Mexico praised for $87M in road construction funding

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A coalition of energy companies has thanked government leaders after receiving millions of dollars of road improvements in the southeast New Mexico. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported that Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the $7.4 billion state budget for next year, which included $300 million for roadway infrastructure and improvements. Permian Strategic Partnership CEO Tracee Bentley said lawmakers agreed to allocate $87 million for road projects across southeast New Mexico. The partnership said in a statement that the funding is in addition to critical transportation funding already given to local projects in recent years.

  • Students, faculty back at college after wildfire evacuation

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — Approximately 300 students and faculty of a small private college in northern New Mexico returned to campus Saturday as firefighters worked to mop up and fully contain a wildfire that prompted a precautionary evacuation. There was no formal evacuation order but United World College USA officials decided Friday to evacuate the campus as a precaution. Those evacuated spent the night in a recreation center in nearby Las Vegas. No structures burned and no injuries were reported. The fire burned 30 acres of timber and brush and was contained around 10% of its perimeter as of Saturday.

  • One gorilla departs Albuquerque zoo, another arrives

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at Albuquerque's city zoo say they've said goodbye to one gorilla and welcomed another. Albuquerque BioPark officials said 35-year-old Marcus left in March to go another accredited zoo and that 19-year-old Kojo arrived this month from the Smithsonian National Zoo. Officials said the zoo which accepted Marcus will announce his arrival once he's ready to be moved into a public habitat after a quarantine safety period. According to the BioPark, Marcus' move was recommended by the species survival plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Zoo officials said Kojo "has a lot of personality" and is currently being introduced to females in the zoo's gorilla troop.

  • Navajo students describe pandemic struggles to Jill Biden

ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. (AP) — Students on the largest Native American reservation spoke with first lady Jill Biden on Friday about challenges they've faced during the coronavirus pandemic, including poor internet access and feelings of isolation. The hourlong discussion took place at Hunters Point Boarding School, a small, aging grade school on the Navajo Nation. The handful of students were from schools in the surrounding area. Lesley Tohtsoni teaches U.S. history at the Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, New Mexico. She says the students talked to Biden about ways to combat isolation and maintain their mental health. Biden told them help was on the way for broadband through her husband's administration.

  • Employee of defense contractor faces charges in Capitol riot

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe man who works for a defense contractor faces criminal charges for his acknowledged presence inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. Authorities say Matthew Martin told the FBI in an interview that he had gone to Washington after reading then-President Donald Trump's tweets about election fraud claims and acknowledged he was inside the Capitol building during the attack. Martin's attorney said his client isn't affiliated with any extremist groups and didn't commit any violence or vandalism or carry a weapon while inside the Capitol. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington didn't respond to a request for the name of Martin's employer. Martin is the third New Mexican to be charged in the events surrounding the riot.

  • At least half of New Mexico students take in-person classes

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — At least half of New Mexico's K-12 students chose to attend school in person as of last week. State education officials say the vast majority of schools are offering in-person schooling, with the exception of schools under tribal health restrictions. Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said only 17 of the state's 840 schools have had to close because of virus concerns since widespread reopening began on April 5. Meanwhile, vaccinations are easier to get than ever in New Mexico, with all residents at least 16 able to schedule appointments. New Mexico has also lifted pandemic-based restrictions on attendance at houses of worship in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

  • State pays $200,000 to inmate injured in 2017 prison riot

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Records show an inmate who survived having his throat slashed in a 2017 prison riot has reached a financial settlement with the state of New Mexico that provides him with $200,000. The Corrections Department said Friday the settlement resolves allegations against the agency, private prison operator GEO Group and affiliated personnel. Inmate Samuel A. Sanchez accused the state and GEO Group of negligence after a convicted serial killer persuaded an inexperienced guard to open a cell door, setting off chaos. The Corrections Department recently took over operation of the prison in the remote town of Clayton as the state re-evaluates partnerships with for-profit prison companies.