Police still seeking suspect accused of attempted murder in July 20 drive-by shooting

One defendant was booked into county jail on Aug. 25

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Samuel Stevens, 18, of Farmington and Jaden Ortega, 21, were charged on Aug. 26 in Aztec Magistrate Court in connection to the alleged attempted murder.
  • A sheriff’s office detective on the night of July 20 spoke to two people injured in the shooting at San Juan Regional Medical Center, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
  • Ortega is the man accused of child abuse in drowning death of his toddler son earlier this year.

FARMINGTON — One suspect has been arrested and another is still at-large after two men were accused of attempted murder in July in connection to a drive-by shooting that injured a woman.

One of the defendants told law enforcement they were trying to shoot a male passenger they believed had “snitched” on a relative to police, according to court documents.

Samuel Stevens, 18, of Farmington and Jaden Ortega, 21, were charged on Aug. 26 in Aztec Magistrate Court in connection to the alleged attempted murder.

Stevens is accused of felony counts of attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and two counts of aggravated assault, according to his criminal complaint.

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Ortega is accused of felony counts of attempted murder, criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and attempted possession of a firearm by a felony, according to his criminal complaint.

Stevens was booked into the San Juan County Adult Detention Center at 2:09 p.m. on Aug. 25, according to jail records.

Jaden Ortega

Ortega’s arrest warrant was still active as of noon on Aug. 30.

A San Juan County Sheriff's Office detective on the night of July 20 spoke to two people injured in the incident at San Juan Regional Medical Center, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

A woman in the front passenger seat was shot once in one of her ankles. She also had small abrasions on her face and right arm.

The affidavit didn’t explicitly list the man’s injuries, but he said he felt “stinging” on his right thigh and the back of his head after the shooting.

One of the vehicle's windows was damaged in the incident, according to court documents. Two passengers in the back seat were not injured.

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Both the man and woman told law enforcement they were driving home from the grocery store. When the car got to the intersection of County Road 350 and 3100, a vehicle pulled up beside them and several gunshots were fired at them.

After the incident, dispatch told them to drive to Dino’s Mart at 405 County Road 390 to meet with paramedics and law enforcement.

The man described the vehicle as an older, gray-colored four-door passenger car. He said he saw a “white boy” wearing a black mask as he held a gun in his hand, according to court documents.

The investigators reviewed multiple sets of security camera footage from the area and found the vehicle believed to be involved.

It wasn’t until Aug. 19 that a detective found a vehicle matching the description and learned Stevens had two previous citations while driving the car, according to court documents.

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Stevens was interviewed on Aug. 25 after he and the suspect vehicle were spotted at Aztec Municipal Court.

Stevens initially denied the allegation,s then admitted to his involvement in the drive-by shooting, the affidavit states.

He told investigators Ortega ordered him to shoot at the vehicle with four occupants after Ortega spotted the vehicle in Flora Vista, according to court documents.

Stevens was allegedly driving the vehicle during the incident and Ortega was a passenger, the affidavit states.

Ortega allegedly wanted Stevens to shoot a handgun at the car because the male driver “snitched” on Ortega’s relative to law enforcement, according to court documents.

Stevens then said he was given the firearm and as they pulled up beside the vehicle, he fired the gun at the car, the affidavit states. The defendants then allegedly fled the scene, per court documents.

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Stevens then told law enforcement he helped dispose of the empty shell casings in his vehicle after the incident, according to court documents.

A search warrant was executed on the Mercury Sable Stevens was driving.

A 9mm round was found in the trunk and gunshot residue was found all over the vehicle’s interior, according to the affidavit.

Ortega is the man accused of child abuse in drowning death of his toddler son earlier this year.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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