Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- Man accused in New Mexico drive-by also facing murder charge
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a man awaiting trial in a drive-by shooting that injured two people near Farmington last year also is facing charges in the fatal shooting of a woman northwest of Aztec. Prosecutors say 21-year-old Jaden Ortega remains jailed in San Juan County on suspicion of an open count of murder in the July 30 death of 52-year-old Julie Harris along with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Albuquerque Journal reports detectives allegedly have matched the gun shell casings from the July 20 drive-by shooting to those found at the Harris crime scene 10 days later.
- Navajo Nation reports 220 new COVID-19 cases, but no deaths
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has reported 220 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths related to the virus. Tribal officials say the number of confirmed cases on the vast reservation since the pandemic began now total 42,887 as of Saturday including 45 delayed reported cases. The known death toll stands at 1,593. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says cases of the omicron variant are much higher in border towns and cities located off the Navajo Nation. Nez also says that COVID-19 vaccines are highly-effective in pushing back on the symptoms and reducing the chances of being hospitalized The reservation covers 27,000 square miles and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
- Stay home or work sick? Omicron poses a conundrum
Millions of workers whose jobs don't provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck as the omicron variant of COVID-19 rages across the nation. While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the beginning of the pandemic, some of those have since been scaled back with the rollout of the vaccines, even though the omicron variant has managed to evade the shots. Meanwhile, the current labor shortage is adding to the pressure of workers having to decide whether to show up to their job sick. Low-wage workers are especially vulnerable. Only 33% of workers whose wages are at the bottom 10% get paid sick leave, compared with 95% in the top 10%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Baldwin: It's 'a lie' that he's not helping shooting probe
NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Alec Baldwin says any suggestion that he's not cooperating with a probe into last fall's shooting on his movie set that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is a lie. He responded via Instagram to stories that discussed why authorities who served him with a search warrant for his phone haven't gotten it yet. Baldwin says the process takes time because it involves two states and clear instructions on what material is sought from the phone. A gun held by Baldwin on the set of 'Rust' went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, and investigators want to know why it contained a live round.
- Farmington police officer shot, wounded; suspect sought
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Farmington police say a 25-year-old Farmington police officer is hospitalized in stable condition after being shot and wounded by a DWI suspect who remained at large. A police department statement identified the shooting suspect as 22-year-old Elias Buck and Police Chief Steve Hebbe said Buck was wanted on felony arrest warrants in other cases. According to the statement, Barreto spotted Buck and a woman walking together and saw they matched descriptions of the occupants of a car reportedly involved in drunk driving. It said Buck ran off after producing a gun and firing multiple shots at Barreto, who returned fire and radioed for assistance.
- NMSU president steps down; chancellor to to be sole leader
LAS CRUCES, N.M, (AP) — New Mexico State University President John Floros is stepping down and Chancellor Dan Arvizu is becoming the leader of the university's main campus in Las Cruces and the NMSU system. Floros and Arvizu said Friday in separate letters to the university community that Arvizu decided to reduce what has been their separate posts to one position. The Las Cruces Sun-News repors that Arvizu said it's time for the university "to return to a more common leadership structure." Arvizu said the NMSU Board of Regents were "aware and support this move." Floros said he would help with the transition and then take a yearlong sabbatical.
- Proposed teacher raises would make New Mexico competitive
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to make New Mexico teacher salaries the highest among neighboring states. Tapping into a glut of oil and gas tax revenue, she's proposing raising educator salaries anywhere from 7% to 20%, depending on their role and level of experience. The cost would be around $275 million. Minimum salaries for entry-level teachers would increase from $41,000 to $50,000. In Texas, starting salaries average around $44,500. However, New Mexico legislators worry that Lujan Grisham's proposal won't be enough to stem the state's teacher shortage.
- New Mexico extends COVID-19 public health orders
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Department of Health has extended COVID-related orders that include a mask mandate for public indoor spaces. The orders also require health care workers and certain other employees to be up to date on their vaccinations. The extension comes as the omicron variant drives up the case count. Many of the recent positive cases from the highly transmissible variant have been mild infections that haven't required hospitalization. Still, New Mexico's hospitals are operating under standards that prioritize immediate medical emergencies. The state also confirmed that New Mexico is following federal guidelines that lessen the isolation and quarantine timeline.