Saturday is usually the night for teens to hang out in town. According to Adriana Sanchez, 21, because there are few places in Raton for non-drinkers and those under 21 to hang out, her little brothers hung out at a car wash with their cousin, Francisco Olguin.
That carwash, located at 400 South 2nd Street and owned by Ramond Luksich, was where an altercation led to Vernon Edwards being shot five times at approximately 10:30 PM on Saturday, August 29, 2020.
According to Sanchez, there was a longstanding dispute between her little brother, Dinishio Edwards, 17, and Donovan Martinez, 17, regarding a girl they were both seeing. Similarly, Olguin had a dispute with a friend of Martinez’s, Tristian Gallegos.
These two disputes led to Martinez and Gallegos driving up to the car wash that Saturday night with a handgun. Gallegos and Martinez got out of their vehicle. Gallegos pulled the pistol from his front waistband, chambered a round, and then handed it to Martinez. While police reports do not indicate the substance of Gallegos’ conversations with Martinez, the Edwards brothers, or Olguin, Sanchez reported that Vernon Edwards told her after the fact that Gallegos told Martinez to “light them up” in reference to the Edwards brothers and Olguin. Gallegos then engaged in a fistfight with Olguin. During the struggle, Vernon Edwards attempted to tackle Martinez to take the handgun from him. Martinez shot Edwards repeatedly, hitting him in the right thigh, the chest, the right arm, the left shoulder, and left foot. After firing, Martinez got up. Edwards did not. Martinez and Gallegos fled to a blue SUV driven by Reva Sandoval and left the scene.
Sanchez said that, after being shot, her brother played dead, lying on the ground with his eyes closed. He reportedly told his sister that someone kicked him in the face before fleeing.
Raton Police Sergeant Cory Coca, who happened to be in the area, reported hearing at least three shots fired. Raton Police Officer James Protsman was the first officer to arrive on the scene. He immediately applied a tourniquet to Edwards’ right thigh (gunshot wounds in the thigh are particularly dangerous due to the risk of damage to the femoral artery). Edwards was transferred to Miners Colfax Medical Center, where he was treated until he was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Medical Hospital for trauma care. Meanwhile, officers examined the scene and interviewed witnesses. Raton Police Sergeant James Valdez learned there were surveillance cameras emplaced at the carwash and was able to identify Martinez from the footage.
After the shooting, the Raton Police searched for Martinez and Gallegos. The police found Martinez on the evening of Monday, August 31, 2020, sending him to a juvenile detention center in Bernalillo, New Mexico. Gallegos is still at large, and the Raton Police has issued a warrant for his arrest.
Sanchez said this was not her brothers’ first encounter with Martinez and Gallegos. She described an incident she reported to police that occurred on July 26, 2020. She arrived at a party to pick up her younger brothers when the three witnessed Gallegos and Martinez firing off shots at them. Sanchez said this altercation was also reported to the police, but it was treated as unreliable reporting.