Ranchos man released without bond after shooting neighbor
Taos Magistrate Court Judge Jeff Shannon ruled on Wednesday (Jan. 2) to release a Ranchos de Taos man who told law enforcement he shot his neighbor at point-blank range with a shotgun in Ranchos de Taos Sunday night (Dec. 30).
Shannon released Cleofas Domínguez-Armendaríz, 52, who faces one count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony, on his personal recognizance, foregoing the setting of a bond that might encourage the man’s appearance at future court dates.
In an interview with Taos County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Cordova early Monday morning, Domínguez-Armendaríz said he shot Javier Muñoz-Rivera as the man held the gun’s barrel against his body and challenged Domínguez-Armendaríz to pull the trigger.
Muñoz-Rivera underwent surgery at Holy Cross Hospital in the hours following the shooting and is now in stable condition, according to Undersheriff Steve Miera.
Domínguez-Armendaríz agreed to meet with Deputy Cordova at the sheriff’s office after 3 a.m. Monday morning to explain why he had shot Muñoz-Rivera.
He said that he and his family were sleeping at their home on Camino de Corazón when the man knocked loudly on his backdoor.
Domínguez-Armendaríz said Muñoz-Rivera was standing in his backyard, “challenging him,” and at one point displayed a handgun. That’s when the 52-year-old said he got dressed, grabbed a loaded shotgun from inside his doorway and went out to meet the man in his yard.
He said the altercation became physical when Muñoz-Rivera gripped the barrel of the shotgun, held the muzzle against his body and started “banging” on his chest. Domínguez-Armendaríz said he pulled the trigger when Muñoz-Rivera then “lunged at him in an aggressive manner,” with the force of the shot causing Muñoz-Rivera to drop to the ground.
Domínguez-Armendaríz then helped load his victim into a vehicle belonging to Ramona Montoya, who had driven Muñoz-Rivera to his residence late Sunday night and was still waiting in the driveway.
At the hospital, Montoya told Deputy Córdova she thought “someone had banged on her car” when she heard a loud bang in the area, not realizing the shooting had taken place until Muñoz-Rivera told her he had been shot as two men, including Dominguez-Armendaríz, loaded him into her car.
Deputies, New Mexico State Police and Taos Police Department worked to identify the home where the shooting took place and cleared the residence. Inside, Córdova said he located the shotgun in a bedroom, along with a .22-caliber pistol.
While at the residence, Córdova interviewed the shooter’s girlfriend, who said Dominguez-Armendaríz had shot Muñoz-Rivera using the shotgun found in her home.
Court records showed that Domínguez-Armendaríz picked up a misdemeanor traffic violation case in 2012, and another this year, in November, but there was no indication of prior felonies in his record.
A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 13.
Cleofas Domínguez-Armendaríz admitted to shooting his neighbor with a shotgun late Sunday night (Dec. 30) on Camino de Corazón in Ranchos de Taos, according to the Taos County Sheriff’s Office.