Albuquerque Man Allegedly Shot by 'New Mexico Civil Guard' Right-Wing Militia Group During Statue Protest

One person has been shot during a clash between people attempting to topple a statue of a Spanish conqueror in Albuquerque and members of an armed right-wing militia group.

The victim is in a critical but stable condition following the demonstration at the statue of Juan de Oñate outside the Albuquerque Museum on Monday.

Video taken from the scene shows a group of people attempting to pull down the statue while chanting "tear it down" before several gunshots are fired.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the shooting occurred after several protesters descended on one man wearing a blue T-shirt who had been pushing and confronting those attempting to topple the statue.

After being forced onto the street, the man in the blue shirt allegedly deployed pepper spray before pulling out a gun and firing, hitting at least one person.

Footage posted on Twitter shows a man in a blue shirt confronting protesters prior to the shooting.

A second video then appears to show armed men in military-style clothing—believed to be members of the New Mexico Civil Guard militia group who were there to protect the statue—surrounding the man on the ground.

Several members of the militia group who were allegedly involved in the violence were then taken into custody by the Albuquerque Police Department. The FBI is assisting APD violent crime investigators as they continue to interview individuals over the incident.

Police have not released details about any of the detained suspects in connection to the shooting.

APD Chief Michael Geier said in a statement: "We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence.

"If this is true will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution."

Video of the shooter before the shooting; he is the guy in the blue shirt who can be seen shoving female protesters. He was an instigator. Moments before the shooting he pepper sprayed people, was called out for it & shot someone who tried to detain him for using the pepper spray pic.twitter.com/G88rsUIF5m

— Brian Mannal (@BrianMannal) June 16, 2020

At the end you can hear 4 gunshots. @KOB4 pic.twitter.com/PzhTPQsnP6

— Megan Abundis (@meganrabundis) June 16, 2020

Militia member being taken into custody by ABQ police. Officers in riot gear detained others in the same group as well pic.twitter.com/hAYZuAJSpT

— Simon Romero (@viaSimonRomero) June 16, 2020

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she is "horrified and disgusted beyond words" by the violence which was allegedly committed by the militia group.

"The heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a 'civil guard,' were there for one reason: To menace protesters, to present an unsanctioned show of unregulated force," Grisham said.

"To menace the people of New Mexico with weaponry—with an implicit threat of violence—is on its face unacceptable; that violence did indeed occur is unspeakable.

"Let me clear: There is absolutely no space in New Mexico for any violent would-be 'militia' seeking to terrorize New Mexicans; and there is no space for violence of any kind on our streets and in our communities, or for any sort of escalation of reckless, violent rhetoric, no matter who strikes first," she added.

"The instigators this evening will be rooted out, they will be investigated, and they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

The New Mexico Civil Guard describe themselves as a group who provide "local lawful response to emergency and dangerous situations, including Natural disaster, humanitarian crisis, civil disturbances, and civil defense."

They had previously attended anti-lockdown demonstrations and George Floyd protests in the state while carrying firearms.

The group posted about the planned toppling of the de Oñate statue—known as La Jornada—on their Facebook page.

Oñate arrived in present-day New Mexico in 1598. While being thought of as a significant figure for those with Spanish heritage in the state, he is also considered a despot known for his brutality against Native Americans.

Protesters descended upon his statue as a number Confederate monuments have been removed or vandalized in the U.S.

Statues of several European colonizers or slave traders have also been targeted across the world as Floyd's death sparked debate about racial inequality and injustices.

In the wake of the shooting, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Oñate's statue would be removed as an "urgent matter of public safety."

"The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city," Keller said in a statement. "Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us.

"Our hearts go out to the victim, his family and witnesses whose lives were needlessly threatened tonight. In order to contain the public safety risk, the City will be removing the statue until the appropriate civic institutions can determine next steps."

The Albuquerque Police Department has been contacted for further comment.

Albuquerque
File photo: A protester wearing a pistol on his hip stands near the location where a car plowed into a crowd of protestors marching through a downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. One man was shot during a protest over the “La Jornada” sculpture in front of the Albuquerque Museum on June 15, 2020. Win McNamee/Getty