Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo
Family members of Ulises Garcia, 16, who was shot and killed on the night of Friday, May 20, gather with friends and family to mourn the teenager. Pictured, from left, are his sister, Cassandra Gracia; uncle, Axel Garcia, 5; mother, Maria Garcia, and brother, Michael Garcia.

LOS LUNAS — An altercation in a Los Lunas drug store parking lot ended in one Valencia County teen dead and another injured last Friday evening.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., May 20, officers responded to the Walgreens at 2500 Main St. NE in response to a call about a shooting.

Los Lunas Police Chief Frank Lucero said 16-year-old Ulises Garcia got into a fight with an 18-year-old man at Walgreens at the intersection of N.M. 6 and N.M. 47, more commonly known as the ‘Valencia Y.’

Lucero said the preliminary investigation revealed the two have “a history going back with each other, so there is some sort of conflict between these two individuals that has been ongoing.”

During the fight, Garcia produced a “sharp, bladed weapon,” Lucero said, but the exact type of weapon used by him is still under investigation.

Lucero said Garcia stabbed the 18 year old, then the man’s father took out a gun and became involved in the altercation, shooting Garcia, later resulting in his death, the chief said.

Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo
Cassandra Garcia places a photo of her younger brother, Ulises Garcia, 16, on a memorial for him Sunday evening. The teenager was shot and killed at the Los Lunas Walgreens at the Valencia Y on the night of Friday, May 20.

A friend drove Garcia to Duke City Urgent Care, about a mile-and-a-half west of the Walgreens, where he later died of his injuries.

The chief said the 18-year-old received medical treatment for his injuries at the scene but refused medical transport to a hospital.

Lucero said the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, with investigators still acquiring surveillance footage, witness statements and other evidence on the incident. He said it is too early in the investigation to tell whether criminal charges will be filed against the individual who shot Garcia, citing possible self-defense.

“It’s very preliminary. There is nothing right now set in stone. Things could very well change,” Lucero said. “… we want to make sure we conduct all of our follow-up investigations before we even comment about (possible charges), but what I can tell you is that everyone within the investigation has been cooperative with our investigators and our investigation at this point.”

Garcia’s older sister, Cassandra Garcia, said her brother was very loving, with a big heart.

“He was very over-protective of his family and friends,” Cassandra said. “He was always happy. I never saw him upset, unless something was going on with myself, his brothers or nephews. He loved his nephews — loved them more than I can explain.”

Cassandra said her brother loved boxing, participating in the sport since he was 5 years old. She said he attended Valencia High School, but had left the school early.

“He was overall very loving,” Garcia’s sister said. “I don’t know much (about Friday night.) It’s still under investigation. They called me and told me he was shot.”

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.

Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.