Update: Las Cruces police arrest alleged shooter

Man and his cat lead police to alleged gunman

POSTED: 11:22 AM MDT Mar 27, 2013    UPDATED: 05:50 PM MST Jan 15, 2014 
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

March 28 update: Cornelius Renteria, the man wanted in connection with Wednesday's shooting of a Las Cruces woman, was arrested early Thursday morning and has been charged with attempted murder, according to Las Cruces Police.

Renteria, 34, is charged with one count of attempted murder, and for violating terms of his parole and probation. Renteria was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center with no bond.

Around midnight, Javier Garcia said his roommate was walking their cat Calvin Le Gat as usual.

Garcia's roommate noticed something suspicious in the dirt lot across from their house near the corner of Espina Street and Nevada Avenue.

He saw a body hidden behind a brick wall and lying underneath a Spider-Man blanket. He and his roommates called police who discovered it was Renteria.

"I'm glad that justice was served all because of a cat," Garcia told ABC-7. "There were like 15 cops here last night. It was a lot of police officers, and then they pretty much searched the area to see if they could find the gun. They gave him a breathalyzer. He woke up all stunned and dizzy."

Renteria was taken into custody without incident.

"We are extremely grateful that a member of our community went out of his way to report his suspicions," said Richard Williams, chief of the Las Cruces Police Department. "That attentive resident helped in the apprehension of a dangerous fugitive. Our city is much safer because of his actions, and the complete and meticulous investigation by all law enforcement officers involved in this case."

Police had been searching for Renteria for more than 13 hours. The lot where he was found was several miles away from where the shooting happened.

Detectives learned that the 27-year-old victim of the shooting, Renteria's former girlfriend, was hosting a party Tuesday afternoon when Renteria showed up uninvited sometime after 3 p.m. According to police, Renteria was apparently angry and wanted the partygoers to leave the woman's residence. Renteria subsequently left the home but allegedly threatened the woman that he would return, police said.

At around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday the woman awoke to Renteria knocking on her door. Renteria told the woman he needed to retrieve some personal property and began leading her to an outbuilding. While walking outside Renteria accidentally dropped a small handgun, believed to be a .22 caliber revolver, and reportedly told the woman he also has another gun in his possession. Out of fear the woman ran back inside her home and tried to close the door on Renteria, but he forced his way in and fired multiple shots at her.

After the handgun apparently ran out of ammunition, Renteria used it and a small can to beat the woman. When the woman's three children emerged screaming from a nearby bedroom, Renteria pointed the gun at them and verbally threatened to kill them. Renteria then ran from the home.

The woman stumbled out of her residence and toward the front gate where a neighbor called 911.

The woman received two gunshot wounds to her upper chest and one to her thigh. She was transported to University Medical Center of El Paso. Her injuries are not life-threatening.

The handgun Renteria is believed to have used has yet to be located. Additional charges against Renteria are possible.

March 27 Original Story: Las Cruces Police have told ABC-7 that a woman was shot at least two times near Holly and Elks Dr. Wednesday morning.

The woman, believed to be in her late 20s, was transported to an El Paso hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police are still searching for the suspect but have not released a description due to having leads in the case.

Check kvia.com for more details as they become available.