Cornelius Renteria, the man wanted in connection with Wednesday’s shooting of a Las Cruces woman, was arrested early Thursday morning and has been charged with attempted murder.
Renteria, 34, is charged with one count of attempted murder, and for violating terms of his parole and probation. Renteria was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center with no bond.
At around midnight a passerby walking near the corner of Espina Street and Nevada Avenue saw a man sleeping in a dirt lot and called police to conduct a welfare check. Officers located the man and positively identified him as Renteria. He was taken into custody without incident.
“We are extremely grateful that a member of our community went out of his way to report his suspicions,” said Richard Williams, chief of the Las Cruces Police Department. “That attentive resident helped in the apprehension of a dangerous fugitive. Our city is much safer because of his actions, and the complete and meticulous investigation by all law enforcement officers involved in this case.”
Detectives learned that the 27-year-old victim of the shooting, Renteria’s former girlfriend, was hosting a party Tuesday afternoon when Renteria showed up uninvited sometime after 3 p.m. Renteria was apparently angry and wanted the partygoers to leave the woman’s residence which is located just south of 1040 Holly Drive. Renteria subsequently left the home but threatened the woman that he would return.
At around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday the woman awoke to Renteria knocking on her door. Renteria told the woman he needed to retrieve some personal property and began leading her to an outbuilding. While walking outside Renteria accidentally dropped a small handgun, believed to be a .22 caliber revolver, and reportedly told the woman he also has another gun in his possession. Out of fear the woman ran back inside her home and tried to close the door on Renteria, but he forced his way in and fired multiple shots at her.
After the handgun apparently ran out of ammunition, Renteria used it and a small can to beat the woman. When the woman’s three children emerged screaming from a nearby bedroom, Renteria pointed the gun at them and verbally threatened to kill them. Renteria then ran from the home.
The woman stumbled out of her residence and toward the front gate where a neighbor called 911.
The woman received two gunshot wounds to her upper chest and one to her thigh. She was transported to University Medical Center of El Paso. Her injuries are not life-threatening.
The handgun Renteria is believed to have used has yet to be located. Additional charges against Renteria are possible.