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Benjamin Valenzuela

ARTESIA — Charges against an Artesia man involved in a pair of shooting incidents last week have been amended to include attempted murder.

Benjamin Valenzuela, 33, of Artesia, was arrested Aug. 4 for his involvement in the shootings, the first of which occurred around 3 p.m. that day in the 500 block of West Bush Avenue. There, Valenzuela allegedly made contact with a male subject, asking to speak to the man’s son. When the man said his son was not home, the Artesia Police Department (APD) criminal complaint states Valenzuela retrieved a firearm from his vehicle and fired three shots at the door.

Valenzuela then allegedly drove to the Morningside area, where a drive-by shooting was reported a short time later around Oak Street and Avenue A. The Eddy County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) responded to that incident, arresting Valenzuela a short time later.

He was charged upon arrest with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and tampering with evidence. The APD later added charges of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, assault with intent to commit a violent felony, shooting at an occupied dwelling, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Today, Cmdr. Lindell Smith of the APD reported that cooperation between APD detectives and the ECSO Violent Crime Suppression Unit resulted in the service of a warrant on Valenzuela Wednesday on amended charges in relation to the incident on Bush Avenue. Those charges now include attempted murder in the first degree; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; being a felon in possession of a firearm; tampering with evidence; and criminal damage to property (under $1,000).

Smith noted that the above charges relate only to the Bush Avenue incident. The ECSO continues to investigate the incident in Morningside.

Valenzuela is scheduled to appear before Judge Jimmy C. Foster for preliminary examination at 9 a.m. Aug. 26 in Artesia Magistrate Court.