Statue at the heart of Albuquerque protest that led to shooting will be removed

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller condemned the violence that led to a shooting at yesterday’s demonstration and announced at a news conference today that the city will be removing the statue that sparked the protest.

“The shooting last night in Old Town at the Oñate sculpture was a horrific and unacceptable act of violence,” Keller said today at a news conference provided to CNN by affiliate KOAT.

“Last night the sculpture became more than a symbol, it became a matter of public safety, and it is being removed today,” Keller added.

The protest was over a statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate.

Both the mayor and city’s police chief also reiterated that the violence was the result of a small minority of “agitators.”

“The continued involvement of agitators, whether the single individual or group of vigilantes is resulting in this violence,” Police Chief Mike Geier said today.

“Our officers gathered more than 20 guns from just four individuals,” Geier explained. 

Keller also echoed the reports from protesters that the man arrested for shooting and seriously injuring a protester was harassing the crowd.

Steven Ray Baca, 31, was arrested in connection with the shooting, according to Albuquerque police. Baca is accused of aggravated battery.

“It appears that the perpetrator was agitating at the protest well before the shooting took place,” Keller said.

The investigation into the shooting has been handed off to the state police “to make sure that this is an independent investigation,” Keller said.