ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – At the start of another summer weekend of bloodshed, Albuquerque police officers were called after midnight to a park where they found a screaming teenage girl beside her boyfriend's bullet-ridden body.
He had met with friends to ask them if he could buy a gun and pulled out a roll of cash. The friends, including two nicknamed “Gucci" and “Sleepy,” responded by opening fire and taking the money, according to a criminal complaint.
They're now facing charges in a city that is 10th in the nation for violent crime, ranks No. 2 for car thefts and has experienced a spike in homicides in recent years.
Local politicians have blamed the situation on problems ranging from a police officer shortage to the opioid epidemic. Others point to a justice system seen as having a revolving door that puts repeat offenders back on the street.
As President Donald Trump seeks re-election and tries to portray himself as being tough on crime, he included Albuquerque earlier this summer among the Democrat-led cities where he has dispatched more federal law enforcement agents to beef up local policing efforts.
Trump highlighted the slaying of Jacqueline Vigil, a mother of two New Mexico state police officers. The Albuquerque resident, who had fled violence in her home country of Colombia, was shot dead last year in her driveway as she prepared to leave for the gym.
With Vigil's two sons at his side last month, Trump railed against the leadership in cities like Albuquerque that he insisted “need help.”
“They need it badly. They should call. They should want it. They’re too proud or they’re too political to do that,” Trump said.