New Mexico police investigate killing of 4 on Christmas Day

The Associated Press

Rio Rancho, N.M. – Police in New Mexico on Thursday were investigating the shooting of four people found dead on Christmas Day in a home in a suburb of Albuquerque.

Police in the community of Rio Rancho did not identify the victims or say whether a suspect or suspects have been identified. A statement said investigators did not believe there was an ongoing threat.

Rose Varona told KRQE-TV that she’s related to the people who lived at the home and that her brother and mother found the bodies.

Authorities work the scene where multiple people were found dead in a home in the Northern Meadows subdivision, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019, in Rio Rancho, N.M.

A family of four lived in the house and stayed up late Tuesday to celebrate Christmas Eve, Varona told the television station.

On Wednesday, Varona said relatives started to become worried that they had not heard from the family, so her mother and brother went to the home and discovered the bodies.

“We just try to draw the strength from God, even though we don’t understand what’s going on,” Varona said.

Authorities cordoned off both ends of the residential street, where some homes were decorated with Christmas lights.

The bedroom community has been mostly immune from the violence that has made headlines in neighboring Albuquerque and elsewhere around the state in recent years.

Police have a residential street cordoned off as detectives investigate the deaths of four people found Christmas Day inside a home in Rio Rancho, N.M., on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.  All of the victims appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds, police said in a statement posted on Facebook.

New Mexico had the nation’s second highest violent crime rate and its highest property crime rate in 2018, despite the state’s largest city reporting slight decreases in both categories for the first time in years, according to federal data released in October.

Albuquerque this year also marked a record number of homicides, even as the Democratic mayor and other politicians have been scrambling to curb the violence.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr just weeks ago announced Albuquerque would be among the seven cities around the county where the Justice Department will intensify federal law enforcement resources in hopes of driving down violent crime.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also has promised to take up more gun-control legislation during the legislative session that begins in mid-January. Efforts last year drew criticism from nearly all of the state’s sheriffs, prompting some counties to declare themselves sanctuaries for gun rights.