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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST

  • 1st case of the omicron variant is detected on Navajo Nation

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation reported 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and no deaths Monday, but tribal health officials said the first case of the omicron variant has been detected on the vast reservation. Based on cases from Dec. 17-30, the Navajo Department of Health has issued an advisory for 42 communities due to uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. The latest numbers pushed the number of cases on the Navajo Nation at 41,657 since the pandemic began. The death roll remains at 1,590. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says health officials recommend wearing two masks in public due to how quickly the omicron variant has spread in other parts of the world. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico, shatters homicide record by 46%

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque has shattered its annual homicide record, marking 117 killings within city limits in 2021. The previous record of 80 was set in 2019. City officials and family members of many victims have pointed to a lack of consequences for repeat offenders as one of the reasons Albuquerque continues struggling with crime. In December, the city also named 14 people to its gun violence prevention and intervention task force. The group will be working on recommendations over the next year. Other U.S. cities also saw increases in homicide numbers. That includes Chicago, which marked one of its most violent years on record.

  • New Mexico utility files appeal over rejected merger

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state's largest electric utility is appealing a recent decision by regulators to reject a proposed merger with a U.S. subsidiary of global energy giant Iberdrola. PNM Resources announced that it filed its notice of appeal with the New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday. Company officials reiterated in a statement that they believe the multibillion-dollar merger with Avangrid would be in the best interest of the state. The Public Regulation Commission in its recent decision pointed to concerns about Avangrid's track record elsewhere when it came to reliability and customer service.

  • Daryl Noon sworn in as Navajo Police Department's new chief

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Daryl Noon has been sworn in as the Navajo Police Department's new chief. Window Rock District Court Judge Malcolm P. Begay administered the oath to Noon during a ceremony Monday at the offices of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer. Noon succeeds Phillip Francisco, who resigned on Nov. 30 and now is the chief of the Bloomfield Police Department in New Mexico. Noon was born in Fort Defiance, Arizona, and previously resided in Shiprock, New Mexico. He has served as the Navajo Nation's deputy police chief since January 2019. Noon previously worked with the Farmington Police Department in several capacities, including deputy chief of police, for more than 23 years.  

  • US close to ending buried nuke waste cleanup at Idaho site

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. officials say they have almost completed a lengthy project to dig up and remove radioactive and hazardous waste buried for decades in unlined pits at an eastern Idaho nuclear facility that sits atop a giant aquifer. The U.S. Department of Energy announced last week that it removed the final amount of specifically-targeted buried waste from a 97-acre landfill at its 890-square-mile site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory. The waste includes plutonium-contaminated filters, graphite molds, sludges containing solvents and oxidized uranium generated during nuclear weapons production in Colorado. Some radioactive and hazardous waste remains in the landfill that will be covered with an earthen barrier.

  • 2nd Asian elephant dies from virus at an Albuquerque zoo

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a second Asian elephant has died at an Albuquerque zoo due to a virus infection. Officials at ABQ BioPark announced Monday that 8-year-old Jazmine died Sunday from the effects of the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus. BioPark officials say the virus was first detected in her bloodwork on Dec. 28 and Jazmine had round-the-clock treatment from medical and elephant experts from across the country. They say the virus also killed her 3-year-old brother, Thorn, on Christmas Day. BioPark officials elephants are most susceptible to the virus from 18 months to 8 years old. They also say EEHV is the leading cause of death for Asian elephant calves and can impact elephants in all habitats.   

  • Teen killed at Ribera New Year's party, 2nd teen arrested

RIBERA, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State police say they've arrested an 18-year-old man after another teen was shot to death at a New Year's Eve party in the small San Miguel County community of Ribera. State police said in a statement that they were called to a Ribera home on Friday night and found 17-year-old Joshua Vigil dead of an apparent gunshot wound. Police investigating the shooting learned that the 18-year-old homeowner had been having a party. Some sort of fight broke out between the homeowner and Vigil that ended in the fatal shooting. The 18-year-old was arrested on a 2nd degree murder charge and a weapons charge.

  • Crews rescue 21 people on stuck tram cars in New Mexico

Authorities in New Mexico say icing on a cable caused two tram cars to get stuck high up in the Sandia Mountains overlooking Albuquerque, stranding 21 people overnight. A Bernalillo County Fire Department spokesman said 20 people in one car were rescued early Saturday afternoon and that the one person in a second car was rescued several hours later.  The spokesperson said the people were all employees of the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway or a mountaintop restaurant. Rescuers used ropes to lower the employees from the cars to ground and then they were ferried off the mountain by helicopter. No injuries were reported.