Las Cruces Police: Park Shooting Believed To Be Self-Defense

May 27, 2014

Freddy Lopez

  The man wounded last Thursday in a shooting at Apodaca Park and his friend have been arrested on charges of illegally restraining the 27-year-old shooter and his young son.

Giovanni Melero, 27, and Freddy R. Lopez, 26, are both charged with one count of false imprisonment and conspiracy. Lopez was arrested Thursday while Melero was taken into custody Tuesday, following his release from University Medical Center of El Paso.

At around 2 p.m. Thursday, May 22, Las Cruces Police were dispatched to a report of shots fired at Apodaca Park. A short while later police were called to MountainView Regional Medical Center where Lopez had driven Melero, who was suffering from a gunshot wound to his neck.

The 27-year-old man who admitted to firing his handgun at Melero was located at his residence after his father called 911 to report the incident. The man was fully cooperative with Las Cruces Police investigators.

Police learned that on at least two previous occasions, Melero is suspected of threatening to kill or harm the victim because Melero is dating the victim’s estranged wife. The victim and the estranged wife share custody of the 4-year-old.

Investigators learned that on Thursday afternoon the 27-year-old victim and his 4-year-old son were sitting in a vehicle, having lunch, when Melero drove by in a white Ford F-150.

After Melero drove by, the victim noticed that Melero met on the north side of the park with Lopez who was driving a blue Cadillac Escalade. Lopez and Melero then drove toward the victim with Lopez parking the Escalade directly in front of the victim’s car and Melero parking the F-150 on the driver’s side of his car. Melero is said to have approached the victim’s car and attempted to gain access, while threatening to kill the victim and his young son.

Out of fear for his and his young son’s safety, the victim armed himself with a .40 caliber handgun. Based on a previous incident with Melero, the victim believed that Melero kept a handgun in his pickup. When Melero returned and reached into his pickup, presumably for a handgun, the victim opened fire striking Melero once.

The victim then drove away from the park and headed toward his home on Eucalyptus Drive. Lopez gave chase for a short distance but returned to Apodaca Park, parked the Escalade and drove Melero to MountainView in the Ford pickup.

Melero was subsequently airlifted to University Medical Center of El Paso. His injuries were not life-threatening and he was released from the hospital Saturday.

On Friday, police obtained a warrant for Melero’s arrest. He turned himself in to police Tuesday afternoon and will be booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center with bond set at $25,000.

Lopez was arrested late Thursday evening. He has since posted bond.

Information from Las Cruces Police