Man shot as protesters clash with ‘vigilantes’ in New Mexico

A man was shot at a protest aimed at toppling a conquistador statue in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday amid clashes between demonstrators and an armed militia group, reports said.

One person, who is believed to be the gunshot victim, was taken to the hospital in critical condition after the gunman opened fire on a group of demonstrators attempting to remove a statue of Spanish conquerer Juan de Oñate, according to NBC News.

The shooting took place as a group of six heavily-armed members of a militia group called the New Mexico Civil Guard began to clash with protesters, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier said that the department was looking into the possibility that the militia group escalated the tension.

“We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence,” Geier said on Twitter late Monday. “If this is true [we] will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.”

A person at the protest tweeted an image of a man he identified as the shooter being detained by police. The suspect allegedly said his father works for the Bernalillo County Sheriffs Office.

A police spokesperson said officers used tear gas and flash bangs to protect officers and detain those involved in the shooting. He said they were disarmed and taken into custody for questioning as police worked to secure the scene.

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