Crazy shit is going on
by Matt Worley
Driving to work on westbound I-40 Friday morning, I thought the scene on the other side of the bridge was just a really bad wreck.
Sure there were at least 50 cops and a school bus and...the Bernalillo county SWAT team? But there's only so much you can take in as you cruise by at 70 mph.
I work in a warehouse office that dispatches techs to lottery retailers, so we're always up on road conditions across the state. Some days it's all about updating what's happening on the roads because of weather. So when I see something like that on the way to work, I tell them about it when I get in.
"It wasn't a wreck, they shot at the guy," was the response. And it had happened almost two hours before I came in.
Rumors and innuendo persisted much of the morning. But one thing we knew for sure was that eastbound I-40 was closed over the Rio Grande indefinitely.
This is the highest volume entrance to the city from the west. And there are only so many ways across the river in Albuquerque. There are good reasons for this, many environmental.
So closing this road created, instantly, chaos. All cars and trucks (semis...thousands of semis) were diverted north and south on Coors to get them across the river and back in the right direction. On the north side of town, a couple of semis tried to go under a bridge they were too tall for. On my way in on Coors, I almost lost the front end of my car to a semi that changed lanes right in front of me with little warning. In other words, drivers were losing their minds. Collectively. Instantly. And it would continue for hours.
Late on Thursday night (a full moon, although we couldn't see it because of clouds) a 27-year-old man broke into a school bus yard on the westside of Albuquerque and stole a bus. He promptly drove it into a ditch. Instead of taking this as a sign that he should steal something smaller (or possibly give up on whatever plan he had), he went back and stole another bus and drove it to Grants (about an hour west of Albuquerque).
In Grants, he plowed into a cop car. With Grants cops in pursuit, he turned the bus back toward Albuquerque. It was early morning on Friday by this time. City and county cops in Albuquerque set up multiple tire puncture chains on the highway. By the time the bus went under the Coors overpass (heading toward the Rio Grande bridge), the tires were blown out, but he kept pushing it until they finally stopped him over the bridge.
And shot the guy three times because he wasn't cooperating with the police (which is a kind of "duh" statement...obviously this guy wasn't cooperating). This was the official explanation for the shooting (I haven't seen any report saying the guy had a gun). He is expected to survive. Maybe he'll have a story to tell about why this all happened. But maybe not.
The highway was closed until two in the afternoon. About 8 hours.
When I went to lunch around noon, I told the office I wasn't going to go far. A few blocks away at a Twisters, I watched as the left hand turn lane on Coors (turning onto Central, Route 66) showed an endless line of cars and semis trying to get across the city. And on all the side roads, cars buzzed around like angry bees. Doing u-eys, speeding on low speed streets, basically out of their minds trying to find a way off the westside of Albuquerque.
By the time I left work (a little early to catch the end of the Lobo women semi-final tournament game...they won that one, but lost the Championship), the roads were back to normal. And I drove through the area of carnage that still showed many signs of what had occurred earlier in the day.
It doesn't take much to throw a tizzy into the day-to-day grind of Albuquerque. Just a crazy guy, a school bus, and a demented dream.
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