Weekend Homicide Believed to be Result of Interrupted Burglary

Las Cruces police believe Saturday’s shooting death of 79-year-old Oscar Amezquita was a result of an interrupted burglary at the victim’s place of business.

Lonnie Gallegos, 38, whose last known address is on the 1000 block of east Hadley Avenue, was arrested without incident about 3 a.m. Wednesday, May 13, at a motel on west Picacho Avenue. Gallegos is charged with one count of first degree felony murder, a second-degree felony count of aggravated burglary, and fourth degree felony counts of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence.

The shooting occurred about 6:20 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Amezquita’s business, Landis Boot and Shoe Service, at 490 S. Esperanza St. Investigators believe Amezquita went to his business, interrupted someone who was burglarizing it and was shot at least once. Amezquita died shortly after first responders arrived. Evidence shows the gunfire originated inside the building and was directed toward the doorway.

The investigation revealed a witness who heard the gunshots and saw a man, with a brown and white pit bull terrier, near Landis Boot and Shoe. The man drove away in Amezquita’s 2004 Kia shortly after the shooting.

Amezquita’s vehicle was located on the 1100 block of East Court Avenue and police interviewed a neighbor who described the man who parked the vehicle there. Police also located surveillance video from a nearby residence that revealed a man walking with a dog. The neighbor’s description and the surveillance video match images of Lonnie Gallegos captured on lapel camera by a Las Cruces police officer early Saturday morning, several hours before the homicide.

The lapel camera video was recorded about 8 a.m. Saturday when an LCPD officer was dispatched to the report of smoke at St. Genevieve’s Cemetery. The officer came across Lonnie Gallegos walking a brown and white pit bull terrier. The officer activated his lapel camera and captured video of Gallegos that later proved to be helpful in identifying the shooting suspect.

Investigators obtained a no-bond warrant for Gallegos late Monday evening and learned of his whereabouts early Wednesday morning. Gallegos was taken into custody without incident about 3 a.m. Wednesday at a motel on west Picacho Avenue.

Gallegos was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where he is initially being held without bond.