BELEN — A reported fight over mail left one woman dead at the Belen Sonic Drive-In on Friday night, and a Belen man charged with an open count of murder.

Donald R. Lewis, 25, of Belen, was arrested and charged and booked into the Valencia County Detention Center early on Saturday, July 1, after allegedly shooting and killing Lisa Swiftbird, 45.

Donald Lewis

According to the probable cause statement filed in Magistrate Court, the incident started when Lewis was confronted by his brother, Jonathon Brawley, at the intersection of Main Street and Reinken Avenue.

Brawley, Swiftbird’s fiance, told officers the couple moved out a home they had been sharing with Lewis and his boyfriend last month around Father’s Day. He claimed Lewis and his boyfriend began calling them after that, threatening to come to their new house in Socorro and shoot and kill them.

On the evening of Friday, June 30, Brawley and Swiftbird saw Lewis driving in Belen and followed him. When they both stopped at the intersection of Main and Reinken, Brawley got out of his vehicle, approached Lewis’s side of his vehicle, knocked on the window and asked Lewis if mail for Swiftbird had been delivered to the house in Belen.

Brawley alleges Lewis was holding a handgun and threatened to shoot him, but a witness in Lewis’ vehicle contradicted that allegation, according to the statement.

Lewis drove away, then turned west on Aragon Road and into the Sonic parking lot, getting in line for the drive thru. The couple followed, and Swift Bird walked up to the driver side of Lewis’ vehicle and began to bang on the window, Brawley told investigators.

Brawley then said he heard a gun shot and saw his brother flee from the scene. He saw Swiftbird on the ground with a gunshot wound to her chest.

A passenger in Lewis’ vehicle told police she heard him say Swift Bird had a knife in her hand when she was banging on the window, but didn’t see the weapon herself. The probable cause statement doesn’t note whether a knife was found at the scene.

After he fled from the Sonic in his vehicle, Lewis circled back to the fast food restaurant and called 911 from the parking lot.

When he spoke with investigators, Lewis claimed Brawley and Swiftbird had been harassing him since the couple moved out, describing the situation only as “he said, she said.”

Lewis told investigators when Swiftbird was banging on his window, allegedly with a knife in her hand, he opened his door to push her away.

“… Lisa grabbed a hold of the door. Donald didn’t know if she was going to stab him, so he shot Lisa,” the statement reads.

According to the probable cause statement signed by Belen Detective Joe Rodriguez, the investigator who interviewed Lewis, he asked why Lewis didn’t drive away when Swiftbird was banging on his window or call 911 due to the alleged harassment.

“I don’t know,” Lewis responded, and “I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking about it.”

During the processing of the scene, a handgun — a Canik T9 — was found in Lewis’ vehicle on the front seat. He told officers the gun was registered to him.

The statement of probable causes concludes that Lewis had reasonable opportunity to leave the situation before it escalated, and he could have called 911 to report the altercation Friday night and the prior incidents of harassment.

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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.