FARMINGTON — One man was killed and three people were injured during a gun battle in a densely populated neighborhood Saturday night.

Farmington resident Christopher Valdez, 40, was killed in a shooting outside a home on East Hopi Street, police said.

Three other people were injured in the shoot out. Police are still investigating whether a man who was treated at San Juan Regional Medical Center for gunshot wounds several hours after the shooting was involved in the shooting on East Hopi Street.

Just before 8:40 p.m., police were called to 101 E. Hopi St. One of men shot Saturday, Michael Tafoya, lives at the home, police said.

 

Police believe that several people fired weapons during the shooting, though they are still piecing together exactly what happened.

“No one saw the shooting in its entirety,” said Farmington police Sgt. Brandon Lane.

Two small homes across the street from the shooting were hit with bullets. Neighbors' vehicles were also shot.

“I'm feeling like I've been protected by angels,” said a woman whose home was shot at on Saturday night. She did not want to be identified.

Another woman said she was sleeping in her room when a bullet entered a window above her head.
First responders found Valdez dead in the street, next to the curb on the northeast corner of Orchard Avenue and East Hopi Street with a gunshot wound to the chest, Lane said.

Valdez lived on Orchard Avenue, near the home where the shooting took place.

“He was hit as a bystander. It appears he may have heard the initial shots and was checking to see what was going on,” Lane said. “We don't know if it was a stray bullet or if he was targeted.”

Neighbors said that moments before the shooting, Valdez was riding his skateboard and his dog, Davis, was pulling him. Valdez's younger brother was with him.
Farmington police investigate a shooting Saturday night near 101 E. Hopi St. One man was killed and three others were hurt.
Farmington police investigate a shooting Saturday night near 101 E. Hopi St. One man was killed and three others were hurt. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)


A man who lived on Orchard Avenue and didn't want to be identified said that at about 8:20 p.m., he and Valdez made plans to get a drink that night.

“He was a sweet guy. He'd give you the shirt off his back,” said Herbie Ellis, Valdez's neighbor. “He was probably trying to break something up and things went bad and he ended up dead in the middle of the street.” 

Police said that Michael Tafoya, 27, lived in a duplex on the southeast corner of the intersection where the shooting took place. Blood spatter was still sprayed on the outer walls of the home Sunday afternoon.

Tafoya was shot in the left arm and armpit and is expected to survive, Lane said.
Farmington police respond to report of a shooting Saturday night near 101 E. Hopi St.
Farmington police respond to report of a shooting Saturday night near 101 E. Hopi St. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)


Kathleen Keck, 26, was visiting Tafoya's home. She was shot in the right arm and left chest and was in fair condition at San Juan Regional Medical Center on Sunday, according to a nurse supervisor.

Lane said police seized four guns from the crime scene. Two were handguns that are believed to be involved in the shooting, according to police.

Minutes after police were called to Tafoya's house, Lawrence Kellywood, 26, was dropped off at San Juan Regional Medical Center with gunshot wounds. He was shot in the face and arm. On Sunday afternoon, he was in serious condition, a nurse supervisor said.

Lane said police are seeking an arrest warrant for Kellywood. Lane said he may be charged with the attempted murder of Tafoya. As of Sunday afternoon, Kellywood had not been charged with a crime.

Kellywood has three prior felony convictions. He was convicted of robbery in 2008, aggravated fleeing from law enforcement in 2008 and aggravated fleeing of law enforcement in 2010. He also has a misdemeanor criminal sexual contact conviction from 2012.  

Several of Tafoya's neighbors said that on Saturday night, they heard three loud gunshots, a brief pause and then three more gunshots.

Patrol officers arrived on scene first, and San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies also assisted in the response. The sheriff's office's helicopter circled overhead for several hours. 

Members of the Farmington police SWAT team also secured the neighborhood, which had a heavy police presence until Sunday morning.

Several hours after the shooting, Levi Wilson, a 31-year-old Kirtland man, arrived at the hospital with gunshot wounds. He was shot in the left hand and right arm. Wilson told police he was shot in a separate incident, but investigators have not confirmed Wilson's statements, Lane said.

Detectives have executed search warrants at the homes of Wilson and Tafoya.

Lane said the individuals involved in the East Hopi Street shooting did not have gang affiliations. 

“Right now, we don't really have an answer on what the motive might have been,” Lane said.


Ryan Boetel covers crime and San Juan County for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644and boetel@daily-times.com. Follow him @rboetel on Twitter.