ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — Chaos erupted Thursday as a gunshot rang out during a protest in northern New Mexico where officials had planned to install a statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate, an event that county officials had already postponed anticipating that tempers would flare.
One man was struck by the gunfire and rushed to the hospital as Rio Arriba County sheriff’s officials took the suspected shooter, 23-year-old Ryan Martinez, into custody. Authorities said they were not currently seeking any other suspects in connection with the shooting.
Oñate has been a controversial figure in New Mexico’s history for generations, with activists targeting the statue and other likenesses of the Spaniard for his oppressive and sometimes brutal treatment of Native Americans during his country’s conquest of what is now the Southwestern United States. Some Hispanics have pointed to the statue as a symbol of their heritage.