New Mexico mailman shot dead by teen after he tried to break up an argument on his route
A postal worker who tried to break up an argument between a New Mexico teenager and his mother was shot and killed, police said.
Albuquerque police had been hunting for suspect Xavier Zamora, 17, the accused in the murder of 47-year-old mail carrier Jose Hernandez and have now confirmed his arrest, CNN reports.
Zamora was reportedly engaged in a heated argument with his mother outside their house in southwest Albuquerque when Hernandez, who was working his regular route, decided to intervene and help the embattled mother in the fight.
Police cited an interview with the mother saying that Hernandez, an army veteran, attempted to use mace on Zamora after which the teen became 'aggressive' toward him. In retaliation, the teenager went into his house, picked up a gun, and opened fire at Hernandez, shooting him in the abdomen before going back inside.
The 47-year-old mail carrier and Army veteran succumbed to his wound despite efforts to resuscitate him, according to police. Responding police and SWAT officers surrounded the house, only to find that Zamora had fled the residence before they arrived.
According to a warrant issued for his arrest, Zamora is 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. "Our detectives worked with the US Postal Inspection Service to locate and arrest the suspect accused of murdering a local letter carrier. Thank you to everyone who assisted," the Albuquerque Police tweeted.
A nearby resident told CNN affiliate KOAT that almost everyone in the vicinity knew Hernandez personally as their neighborhood mail carrier. "Jose was a very special guy -- he was not your ordinary mailman," Michael Shepherd told KOAT. "He'd go out of his way. He would talk to you."
People left several bouquets of flowers and notes outside the house on Tuesday as a tribute to Hernandez. "To a great mail carrier who sacrificed his life for the greater good," one note written by a colleague reads, per KOAT. "We will all remember you."
The agency said that Hernandez was a 12-year veteran of the Postal Service, an Army veteran and a father of four and was currently a carrier from the city's Five Points post office.
Postal Service spokesman Rod Spurgeon said, "We are shocked and saddened to learn of such a tragic death of one of our own employees and coworkers. He served his community with dedication and was a decorated Army veteran. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. The Postal Service is offering employee assistance services to his family and coworkers."
Mayor Tim Keller expressed his condolences and said the shooting had shaken the city. "We are grieving with the family of the victim, and with the entire postal service family," Keller said. "While we are working to get answers to the many remaining unanswered questions, we know we must, and will continue to, fight against the gun violence that has taken a terrible toll on our community. Fighting crime will remain our top priority."
He continued, "Albuquerque, please take some time in the next few days to personally make sure your local letter carrier knows how much you appreciate them, and give them your love and support."