News-Bulletin Staff Writer
The Valencia County Sheriff’s Department is asking for help in locating the person who they believe accidentally shot and injured a Los Lunas teenager in the leg at the Kennedy Campgrounds Sunday morning.
Rene Ruiz, 16, is recovering at home this week from a single gunshot wound to his leg. Valencia County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. James Purdy said Ruiz and his family were on a family outing Sunday at the Kennedy Campgrounds located at the foothill of the Manzano Mountains when he was shot.
According to the police report, Purdy learned of the incident when he was dispatched to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque in reference to a victim who had been shot. When the detective arrived at the hospital, he spoke to Ruiz.
“He (Ruiz) said that he and his family were in the mountains this morning hiking and playing,” the police report said. “He said that as he was walking up a trail, he heard a shot and then felt pain. It was then that he realized he was shot.”
Ruiz’s parents and two younger sisters didn’t witness the shooting, the report said. The teenager told Purdy his family remained at the picnic area while he started up the trail.
During Purdy’s interview with the teenager, Ruiz told him that he never saw the person who shot him, but said he had seen several people earlier that morning in the area shooting guns.
“… He thought that they were far enough away and wasn’t concerned,” the police report said. “He said that he couldn’t describe them, and that he believes it was an accident.”
As soon as Ruiz’s parents realized he had been shot, they immediately took him to the hospital. Ruiz’s mother told Purdy she didn’t see her son shot — just that he fell down.
Ruiz was shot in the right thigh, just above his knee. The attending physician told the detective there was no exit wound and that he believed a small caliber bullet was lodged in the teenager’s leg.
“The bullet is still in his leg,” Purdy said. “They didn’t take it out — they didn’t think it would be necessary. The doctors said there didn’t appear to be any serious damage and that it was not life-threatening.”
Ruiz was treated and released from the hospital later Sunday afternoon.
Purdy believes at this point that the shooting was accidental. He said, without further information, he can’t point to any criminal wrongdoing.
“There’s nothing we can do at this point until someone comes forward and tells us what happened,” Purdy said. “He (Ruiz) can’t say someone shot him on purpose, he didn’t shoot himself and no one in his family shot him — so the only thing you have left is a stray bullet.”
If anyone has any information in this case, call Valencia County Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant James Purdy at 866-2414.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.