Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT


Pressure mounts as tribes seek more time on drilling plan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The clock is ticking but Native American leaders say they’re in the midst of a health crisis and unable to weigh in on a proposal by U.S. land managers that will guide oil and gas development for years to come in an area held sacred by some Southwest tribes. The chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors was joined Friday by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and others in renewing calls for the Bureau of Land Management to extend the comment period on a management plan for the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The agency has yet to respond.


Bobby Lee Verdugo, leader of 1968 LA school walkout, dies

Bobby Lee Verdugo, one of the leaders of the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkout to protest discrimination and dropout rates among Mexican American students, has died. His daughter, Monica Verdugo, announced on Facebook that her father died peacefully Friday surrounded by his wife and his family. He was 69. Born in East Los Angeles, Verdugo was a key figure in the 1968 student movement of Mexican Americans who faced physical punishment for speaking Spanish in class and discrimination from white administrators and teachers. The beatings of high school students seeking fair treatment generated anger around the U.S. and encouraged Mexican American students in Texas and New Mexico to stage their own walkouts.


New Mexico takes more drastic measures against virus hotspot

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A modern-day trading post on the southern outskirts of the Navajo Nation was on lockdown under the watch of National Guard troops and state police to discourage nonessential travel and commerce as local coronavirus infections soar. Invoking provisions of the state Riot Control Act, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered residents of Gallup to remain home over the weekend except for emergencies and blocked roads leading in and out of town to nonessential travel and any vehicles carrying more than two people. The restrictions were welcomed by local and state officials who have watched COVID-19 infections spread to nursing homes, homeless populations and overwhelm hospital intensive care units.


Remote Northern California county defies stay-at-home order

ALTURAS, Calif. (AP) — A remote Northern California County has defied the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order and reopened some businesses. Modoc County, population 9,000, moved Friday to reopen hair salons, churches, restaurants and the county’s only movie theater. Local officials say they have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and they are requiring customers to practice social distancing. Newsom has declined to address the reopening but says the anxiety in rural areas “is not lost on me.” He also hasn’t responded to a demand from six other rural Northern California counties to grant them permission to reopen.  


Bernalillo DA spokesman fired after domestic violence call

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The spokesman for Bernalillo County District Attorney has been fired in connection with a domestic violence investigation. Second Judicial District Attorney Policy and Planning Chief Adolfo Mendez II says Michael Patrick was terminated after an investigation into allegations of domestic violence at his Albuquerque home. Police lapel footage from April 14 show officers interviewing his wife, who says the 50-year-old Patrick pushed her into a closet following an argument over credit card expenses. A criminal complaint says an agent from Discover Card heard Patrick’s wife, KOAT-TV anchor Shelly Ribando, say Patrick hit her before the call disconnected. Court records do not list an attorney for Patrick. 


Police: 3 men from Colorado, New Mexico in fatal shooting

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in northwestern New Mexico say two men from Colorado and one from New Mexico have been arrested in a fatal shooting. The Bloomfield Police Department said 51-year-old Leodis Williams was killed Thursday morning and that multiple law enforcement agencies in the region helped arrest three suspects several hours later. Police identified them as 43-year-old Mark Lindsey of Bloomfield, 33-year-old Eric Crosby of Durango, Colorado, and 28-year-old Michael Greer, 28, also from Durango. All three were arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Crosby and Greer also were accused of tampering with evidence. Online court records didn’t list defense attorneys for the men who could comment on their behalf.


Virgin Galactic completes first glide flight in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic’s spaceship has landed in the New Mexico desert after its first glide flight from Spaceport America. The company announced Friday’s flight on social media, sharing photos of the spaceship on the runway. Officials said stringent operational protocols were in place during the flight to ensure safety amid the coronavirus outbreak. The protocols included the use of masks, changes to the work areas and procedures to enforce social distancing. Virgin Galactic is working toward commercial operations that will take passengers on supersonic thrill rides to the lower reaches of space to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the Earth below.


Group: Funds meant for chicken conservation misused

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists are questioning spending by wildlife managers who oversee a conservation effort for the lesser prairie chicken after money was used on a building and salaries rather than on projects to help the bird. Once listed as a threatened species, the chicken’s habitat spans parts of five states — including a portion of the oil-rich Permian Basin. The Center for Biological Diversity has been pushing for federal protections for the species and pointed to an audit of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies that was recently made public. The association says it’s taking steps to improve oversight and management of the conservation program.

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