Rio Rancho Police Officer Gregg Benner was fatally shot and killed during a traffic stop on Monday night. The suspect in the shooting has a long and violent criminal history, including jail time for killing a man.
According to KOAT, the 49-year-old officer made a traffic stop around 8 p.m. Monday near Southern Boulevard and Pinetree Road. Andrew Romero and a woman were in the vehicle. When Benner questioned him, Romero gave him conflicting information.
Romero had an active warrant for his arrest so once he noticed the officer’s suspicions, he sped off in his car. Benner pursued and when he stopped the vehicle once again, Romero opened fire and blasted three shots at the officer. Unable to draw his gun and return fire, Benner was shot in the upper and lower torso.
An unknown individual called 911 and paramedics and officers were at the scene within minutes of the incident. Benner was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Although the woman in the car remained at the scene, Romero fled. Police were able to locate him shortly after when he robbed a gas station using the same gun he used to shoot Benner.
KOAT reported that the news of the slain Rio Rancho officer was devastating to the community and the department. Benner, a four-year police officer and retired Air Force veteran, was survived by his wife and five adult children.
In the history of the Rio Rancho Police Department, this was the first time an officer had been shot and killed in the line of duty.
“Officer Benner was a dedicated military veteran and law enforcement officer and his tragic death is deeply saddening to the tight-community of Rio Rancho,” said Mayor Greggory Hull. “The City of Rio Rancho mourns his untimely death and I urge community members to keep Officer Benner’s family in their thoughts and prayers.”
Benner was shot and killed at 8:04 p.m. He was supposed to get off duty at 8 p.m. on Monday.