New Mexico police say an SUV drove through a Native American celebration on Thursday, injuring 15 people along a parade route packed with families.
Two police officers were among the injured and at least one person – the driver of the SUV – was arrested in connection with the accident, New Mexico State Police reported.
The incident took place in Gallup, a town of about 22,000 people along historic Route 66 about 140 miles northwest of Albuquerque near the Arizona border.
No deaths have been reported. Officials said the injured were transported to local hospitals with moderate but not life-threatening injuries.
Videos taken by people who came to see the parade show the large brown vehicle hurtling down a main street of the city, against the direction of the parade.
Children performing traditional dances seem to have been among the first to see him rush towards them. They can be seen running sideways as people scream and families jostle to get out of the way.
The vehicle then swerved down a side street and pulled into a parking spot before trying to pull back again, hitting a police cruiser. Officers then converged on the vehicle, pulling at least two people and handcuffing them to the sidewalk.
SUV driver arrested in Gallup incident
New Mexico State Police are handling the crash investigation, the department said in a post on Twitterwho added that the driver of the SUV was in custody.
“Several people, including two Gallup PD officers, were injured and are being treated at the scene,” state police wrote in the tweet.
Gallup police were notified around 7:50 p.m. that several people were consuming alcohol in a tan Chevrolet Tahoe parked along the parade route.
As officers approached the Tahoe, the driver put the vehicle in gear and took off, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety said in a news release.
“The driver started the vehicle and struck police, pedestrians, vehicles and a business before the vehicle backed into a New Mexico State Police unit and those involved were arrested. arrested,” the city of Gallup said in a statement. USA TODAY.
The driver of the vehicle, Jeff Kenn Irving, 33, of Pinedale, New Mexico, was charged with multiple misdemeanors, including aggravated DWI and driving with a suspended license, expired registration and without insurance. He was also charged with an accident involving bodily harm, including one grievous bodily harm and 14 counts of minor bodily harm, the state Department of Public Safety said.
Two male Tahoe passengers – ages 23 and 29 – were arrested and taken to the Gallup Detox Center, officials said.
Authorities were not investigating the case as a hate crime, the public safety department said.
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The parade was part of celebrations for the centennial celebration of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremony, state police said. The event was founded in 1922 to honor Native American and Indigenous heritage.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday the state would send additional police officers and a behavioral crisis team to Gallup for the remainder of the 10-day event.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez attended the event with his family and other officials and was struck by the SUV as it drove through the crowd. He spoke on Facebook on Thursday evening, asking for prayers for those affected and urging those affected by the events to call the numbers for mental health professionals listed on his official page and check on friends and relatives who were the.
“It’s just the evil creeping into our community,” Nez said in his six-minute speech from a street in Gallup as lightning flashed occasionally in the background. “You would see this on TV, you would think it would never happen here.”
“We are incredibly saddened and shocked by the traumatic and life-threatening incident that occurred last night,” Intertribal Ceremonial Office Executive Director Melissa Sanchez wrote in a statement Friday morning. “We are waiting for law enforcement to continue to gather the facts regarding this ongoing situation. At this time, safety is the top priority for community members, attendees, travellers, staff and event volunteers.”
Contributor: Associated Press and John R. Moses of the Farmington (NM) Daily Times.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers the latest news and trends for USA TODAY. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.