• A man was shot in New Mexico after protesters tried to topple the statue of Juan de Oñate
  • He was rushed to a local hospital in critical but stable condition
  • Members of the Mexico Civil Guard tried to protect the monument from the demonstrators
  • Police Chief Michael Geier said the city will be removing the statue 

An unidentified man was shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Monday (June 15) after protesters tried to topple the bronze statue of Juan de Oñate.

The victim was rushed to a local hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition, said ABC News, citing a statement from the Albuquerque Police Department.

The protest was peaceful at first but things got out of hand when some demonstrators took hold of a pickaxe and tried to take down the controversial “La Jornada” sculpture, a monument that features Oñate.

Gunfire was heard outside the Albuquerque Museum near Tigreaux Park when members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, a “heavily armed” civilian group tried to protect the conquistador's monument from the raging protesters.

Thousands of people, gather at a far-right linked protest in London to 'guard' the statue of Winston Churchill as fears it will be vandalised grow.
Thousands of people, gather at a far-right linked protest in London to 'guard' the statue of Winston Churchill as fears it will be vandalised grow. AFPTV / Nick McAVANEY

“Although we are still learning more about the situation, I am horrified and disgusted beyond words by the reports of violence at a protest Monday night in Albuquerque,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement following the incident.

Lujan Grisham added that the armed civilians who regarded themselves as “civil guards” were there to “menace protesters” and to “present an unsanctioned show of unregulated force.”

“To menace the people of New Mexico with weaponry – with an implicit threat of violence – is on its face unacceptable; that violence did indeed occur is unspeakable,” Lujan Grisham said, through the Albuquerque Journal.

Police used tear gas and flash-bangs to protect responding officers and detained those who were involved in the shooting. Five or six men dressed in military fatigues were disarmed and taken into custody, Albuquerque Police spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos told Fox News.

The shooting started when a fight erupted between a man in a blue shirt and people trying to pull down the statue. According to the outlet, the man was “pushed onto the street” while some protesters started advancing toward him. He then pulled a can of pepper spray from his pocket and sprayed it.

At that point, the man appeared to have pulled a gun and fired around five shots. The man who was shot was said to be one of those who were advancing on the man in the blue shirt.

“If this is true, we will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution,” said Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier after receiving reports about “vigilante groups” instigating Monday's violence.

Geier also pointed out that the city will be “removing the statue until the appropriate civic institutions can determine the next steps,” according to Fox News.

An APD spokesperson said the FBI is assisting in the investigation, while Senator Martin Heinrich prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the incident.