Farmington police adding more patrols to Berg Park following fatal stabbing
FARMINGTON — Citizens walking along the trails at Berg Park will see an increased police presence for the rest of the month after the May 5 stabbing which left one man dead.
Farmington Police Department officers will be assigned to more shifts to patrol the park for the month of May, according to Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe.
Derrick Charley, 26, has been charged with an open count of murder. He is accused of fatally stabbing 37-year-old Hector Luna-Holguin on May 5, according to court documents.
The incident occurred around 6:22 p.m. at Berg Park East, near a bathroom in the area of the Berg Bridge, which crosses over the Animas River.
In an interview with a detective, Charley claimed he stabbed the victim because he was fighting Luna-Holguin and Luna-Holguin had been choking him.
Luna-Holguin's wife told police he had gone to a nearby restroom while the family was eating dinner in the park.
After she saw what appeared to be a fight she ran toward the restroom and found her husband walking with another person who held a shirt to his chest.
Luna-Holguin collapsed and told his wife someone had stabbed him.
An increased police presence
Hebbe extended his condolences to Luna-Holguin's family, describing the crime as reprehensible.
"It's terrible for the community when something like that happens," Hebbe said.
The department is assigning more shifts for officers to patrol the parks as the department staffs up a new park ranger program.
Hebbe stated he takes time to walk through the park, and discussed possibly relocating shift briefings to parts of Farmington, including the Riverwalk.
"We're doing the best we can to keep it a safe environment," Hebbe said.
The program will have six park rangers assigned to patrolling downtown Farmington and several parks across the city.
Farmington police are in the process of running background checks on the new hires. Hebbe hopes to deploy the new rangers in mid-June as part of a pilot program the Farmington City Council approved in February.
The rangers will be assigned radios and stun guns and will provide a uniformed presence along the river trail system, along with Brookside and Brookhaven parks and Lake Farmington.
Walkers feel safe at park
Citizens walking along the river trail system on May 9 stated they felt safe in Farmington parks and welcomed the increased police presence.
Rebecca Winters and her husband, Mark Winters, walk the trails almost every day in the afternoon. On May 9, they started their walk by looking for baby geese along the Animas River.
She stated they never felt unsafe in the park, even when they sometimes see suspicious people along the trails.
Rebecca likes the idea of the park rangers, stating it would be nice to see rangers patrol the park in the future.
Donny BlueEyes was walking with Lisa Hale-BlueEyes on the trails, something they do a couple of times a week.
"We usually feel safe because we are usually aware of our surroundings," Donny BlueEyes said.
Donny welcomed the idea of the park rangers and increased police presence, which will hopefully catch the eye of any suspicious person.
Charley incarcerated at county jail
Charley will be held at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center without bond as he awaits his trial.
District Court Judge Daylene Marsh ruled in favor of the San Juan County District Attorney's Office motion during a hearing on the afternoon of May 10 in Aztec District Court.
The courtroom was full of friends and family of Luna-Holguin, prompting extra deputies from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office to staff the hearing.
During the hearing, the defense and prosecution questioned the detectives involved in the investigation.
A video was played which detailed the end of the incident, with Luna-Holguin holding Charley in a headlock until Luna-Holguin started to succumb to his injuries.
Charley's preliminary hearing is set for the morning of May 15 in Farmington Magistrate Court.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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