On June 11 and 19, shootings occurred at 11:15 p.m. and 12:15 a.m., respectively, on the premises of Lobo Village, a University of New Mexico student housing apartment complex located on South Campus. The shootings and response have brought up safety concerns among residents. No one was injured during either shooting, although there was property damage reported.
Since the second shooting, ID checks and guest restrictions have been implemented by Lobo Village; the complex has a security guard at the front gate checking a book to verify someone’s residency upon entry. UNM Police Department is currently stationed there on weekends, but the need for UNMPD presence will be assessed on a daily or weekly basis and is not permanent, according to UNMPD Lieutenant Larry Bitsoih.
However, multiple residents have said these restrictions are already being loosened.
“They have started checking IDs, but it's kind of like, they were really on it for a week. And now they're kind of like, chill about it,” Lobo Village resident Liana Bygel said.
For some residents, including one who chose to remain anonymous, fear arises from the potential threat of not knowing who the shooters are; the investigation is ongoing for both cases, currently with no suspects, according to Bitsoih.
“It's still pretty scary, knowing that the people are probably still out there. Or maybe they live here. I mean, I'm not sure,” the anonymous resident said.
Upon moving to Lobo Village, the anonymous resident said she expected noises from parties, but was left scared when she heard gunshots so close. The night of the second shooting, she knew it was serious when she heard screams to “get down” and running coming from outside.
Derek Tarman, another resident, said he saw the gunman the night of the second shooting.
“I look outside the window and I see this dude just waving a gun around up in the air. And he walks out from the little opening that's surrounded by buildings and walks out to the parking lot and I was like, ‘Oh, that's really strange.’ So I call my parents and I call the cops. And then I'd say like 20 or 30 more shots are fired,” Tarman said.
The morning after the second shooting, both Tarman and the anonymous resident mentioned seeing bullet casings scattered all over the ground.
Another resident who wished to remain anonymous said that her car was one of the ones that was shot. After talking to UNMPD, she was instructed to see if UNM or Lobo Village would help pay for damages; she is currently looking to break her lease due to the shootings.
“(Lobo Village is) not liable for anything that happens to our property on the grounds, which is kind of ridiculous … And there was, I believe, six cars (damaged), (and) a lot of them had more damage than mine. So it's kind of crazy that they weren't going to help us out in any way,” she said.
Tarman said that he is upset about the management at Lobo Village and, along with the second anonymous resident, said that he would like to see quicker responses and notification from security, police or Lobo Village.
“I feel (that) not letting guests in, it's just temporary. People are gonna find ways to get around it … I feel like having maybe more security instead of restricting flow through; maybe just having more security on guard, making sure there's like cops on duty nearby or (someone) on call,” Tarman said.
Lobo Village management explained that resident and employee safety is a “top priority,” that there is a strict zero-tolerance policy for guns and they are working with UNMPD on more safety measures, in a written statement to the Daily Lobo.
“We have been communicating with our residents about the incident and have responded in collaboration with UNMPD by increasing security measures with added security personnel to provide additional vigilance in our community. Additionally, we have temporarily restricted guest access as we address the issue of crime in the broader neighborhood. As a result, our team has reached out to APD to address additional on-site police presence,” Lobo Village management wrote.
Bygel said that she continues to fear for her safety at Lobo Village and feels the security they have been providing is not sufficient.
“I think of my psychology class and how you learn that security is one of the basic human needs, and you kind of need (it) to thrive. And I don't feel like everybody feels safe and I feel like they have the security, but both of the shootings have happened. So, how much are they really doing?” Bygel said.
Madeline Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddogpukite