N.M. conquistador statue shooter was investigated by FBI

Prosecutors point to man’s tweets from 2018 about threatening gun violence in motion to justify holding him in jail

By: - October 2, 2023 4:02 pm

One of the event organizers speaks with counter-protestors, including Ryan Martinez (left) who has now been charged with attempted murder in the shooting of an attendee during a peaceful protest in Española on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. (Photo by Anna Padilla for Source NM)

The person who shot a protester last week outside the Rio Arriba County government headquarters had previously been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his posts on social media that suggested a violent attack on the country’s central banking system.

Ryan Martinez, 23, made a series of threatening posts on Twitter that “concerned the FBI enough to investigate,” according to a letter from the FBI to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

In a hearing on Monday, a judge ruled that Martinez will remain in jail while he awaits for his case to proceed.

Replying early in the morning on Dec. 19, 2018 to the official Twitter account of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Martinez wrote: “Time to end the fed and put a bullet in some people’s head once and for all #1776.”

Two minutes later, also replying to the Federal Reserve’s account, Martinez wrote: “Boy does it get me mad you control my fucking money and you have a building in MY capital. Change is coming real soon.”

Screenshots of Martinez’s two posts along with his now-deleted account handle and profile picture were attached to a motion by state prosecutors asking a judge to hold Martinez in jail.

In a third post — referenced in the FBI’s letter but not included as a screenshot like the others — Martinez allegedly replied to a post calling for the abolition of the Federal Reserve. He wrote it would not happen, and that it was “Time to Militia up son.”

A third-party social media monitoring company notified the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Law Enforcement Unit about the posts, and the FBI determined the account belonged to Martinez, according to the letter.

FBI agents interviewed Martinez on Jan. 24, 2020, the letter states, during which he “admitted to making the threatening posts on Twitter and stated he was venting frustration about the Federal Reserve.”

“Martinez was cautioned about making threats in the future,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ruben Marchland-Morales wrote in the letter, dated Sept. 29, 2023. “No specific or immediate threat to life was identified.”

Trump supporter charged with attempted murder in Española shooting

State prosecutors are using the information about Martinez’s interactions with the FBI to argue that he should be held in jail until a trial in the criminal case against him.

First Judicial Deputy District Attorney Norman Wheeler wrote in a motion for pretrial detention on Monday morning, “(Martinez) tweeted about using a firearm and then low and behold when a perceived conflict arose, (Martinez) used his firearm to shoot a man standing not ten feet from him, who was standing in a crowd that included children when (Martinez) could have simply walked away.”

No conditions of release from jail would reasonably protect the safety of others or the safety of the community, Wheeler wrote. “The danger to the community cannot be overstated,” he wrote.

Wheeler wrote that Martinez “came to a peaceful community event” in Española all the way from his home in Sandia Park outside Albuquerque, more than an hour’s drive away, and “purposefully sought out this event to attend outside of his local community.”

Prosecutors missed their window to file motion, defense says

Martinez’s defense tried to argue that prosecutors had missed their deadline on Monday to file a motion to hold him in jail, but a judge allowed them more time instead of releasing him.

Wheeler on Sept. 29 asked Rio Arriba Magistrate Court Judge Alexandra Naranjo to delay court proceedings for 24 hours because the state needed more time to gather information to decide whether to file a motion for pretrial detention.

Naranjo granted Wheeler’s request.

In a hearing held via telephone on Monday morning, Naranjo told Martinez the sole purpose of the hearing was to advise him the state of New Mexico is seeking to keep him in jail until trial.

He had already been formally presented with the attempted murder and aggravated assault charges at 10 a.m. on Sept. 29 with Magistrate Judge Joseph Madrid, according to online court records.

The local prosecutor told the Santa Fe Reporter her office intended to file a motion Monday morning asking for pre-trial detention in the case, however, as of 11 a.m. they had not done so, according to online court records.

“They failed to meet the 24-hour deadline,” Jennifer Burrill, Martinez’s public defender, told Naranjo. “We’d ask the court to set conditions of release.”

Naranjo said she heard Burrill’s concerns but “the court has the ultimate say-so.”

Trump supporter shoots someone attending peaceful rally

“The hearing that was held on Friday was held out of line,” Naranjo said. “This court is not aware why — or, this bench is not aware why — it was not held at 11:30.”

“All I can tell you is: we are on the scheduled docket, we hear Tierra Amarilla’s arraignments at 11:30 every single day, I do not know what happened. And at this time, my ruling stands.”

Prosecutors filed the pretrial detention motion at 11:28 a.m. on Monday, after the 24-hour deadline and just two minutes before the hearing started.

More charges likely coming

Prosecutors have so far charged Martinez with attempted murder and aggravated assault for what he did on Sept. 28.

They may charge Martinez with additional crimes including reckless driving and child abuse, Wheeler wrote in the pretrial detention motion.

A witness to the shooting told police that they saw Martinez drive away from the county building in a white Tesla, driving on the wrong side of the road. Police saw him drive more than 100 miles per hour trying to get away before he was stopped in Pojoaque Pueblo.

Another witness told police that before the shooting, Martinez was trying to reach the shrine protesters had made on the base of the Juan de Oñate statue, and where children were gathered.

Martinez was recording the celebration, Wheeler wrote, “causing celebrators to become concerned, so much so, that they gathered the children inward away from (Martinez).”

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.