Lead Investigator Israel Saenz, Junior, with the Luna County Sheriff’s Department said the shooting occurred after a set-up robbery went bad.
Charged with the shooting was 31-year-old Nathan Rowland of Silver City, who was one of the state Corrections Department’s Most Wanted Offenders and who was arrested last week on outstanding warrants.
Also charged with the shooting was 33-year-old Salvador Sepulveda of Bayard.
But the key player appeared to be the woman with 44-year-old Eric Arzate of Las Cruces when he was shot. The woman – 38-year-old Martha Ramos Cano of Hurley – admitted to setting Arzate up for a robbery at the rest stop. She told investigators that Arzate, whom she described as a friend and former boyfriend, always had cash. Apparently the robbery set-up had been planned for several days.
Saenz said Arzate may have resisted the robbery attempt, and that was what prompted the gunfire. Arzate received at least one gunshot wound to the back, but was released from an El Paso hospital last Thursday.
The fourth arrestee – 26-year-old Ashley Ortega of Bayard – was charged with conspiracy.
Officials say at least one more arrest may be made in the case.