El Cerro Mission

An El Cerro Mission man is lucky to be alive after he was shot in the head at close range Sunday night, according to police.

Artemio Enriquez, 19, is recovering at home from a single gunshot wound to the head, while the police are still searching for the suspect.

Valencia County Sheriff’s Detective Ventura Salas said he believes Enriquez was shot after trying to stop a fight between two sets of brothers.

Enriquez and his family were hosting a baptismal party Sunday when two men reportedly came to Enriquez’s house at 45 West Brazarro in the Monteray Park subdivision, ready to start a fight, Salas said.

Police have charged Miguel Garcia, 29, of Los Lunas with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery in this case. Salas said he hasn’t been able to locate Miguel Garcia or Garcia’s brother.

“Miguel and his brother went up to this party and started a confrontation with some of the people at the party,” Salas said. “It happened in the front yard. There were about 160 people at the party.”

According to the criminal complaint, Miguel Garcia is alleged to have been seen waving around a gun and pistol-whipping a Belen man. The victim reportedly walked outside and asked what was going on. The criminal complaint said Enriquez tried to stop the fight and defuse the situation when he was threatened.

According to Salas Miguel Garcia and his brother went to the party looking for Michael, 20, and his 21-year-old brother, Juan Aguilar of Belen. Salas said the two sets of brothers had an on-going dispute going back three years.

“Witnesses at the party said Miguel had struck Juan in the face with the gun before Artemio came to break up the fight,” Salas said. “Artemio said Miguel fired three shots one striking him on the left side of the head.”

Salas said Enriquez, who was standing one to three feet in front of Garcia, was shot in the left temple and the bullet exited from the back of his head. “The bullet didn’t penetrate the skull. It traveled underneath the skin,” Salas said. “He was very lucky.”

After Enriquez was shot, he was pushed back and landed on a cactus, Salas said. When the deputy arrived on scene, the victim was conscious, standing and was seen holding his head.

Enriquez was transported by Lifeguard helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where he was treated and released several hours later.

Valencia County Sheriff’s deputies and New Mexico State Police officers immediately scoured the area, looking for the two suspects. Along with other area law enforcement officers keeping an eye out for the suspects, Salas alerted the border patrol, just in case the two brothers are headed to Mexico.

The Garcia brothers were last seen driving a 1997 to 1999 dark-blue Ford pickup truck with an extended cab, three doors, side steps and a silver-chrome design from front to rear.

Salas said that, the number of people at the party, it was difficult for police to find any evidence at the scene, includuing any rounds or bullet casings.

Garcia’s younger brother hasn’t been charged with a crime.

If anyone has information about this case, call Valencia County Detective Ventura Salas at 866-2413.

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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.