15-year-old driver shot in head in New Mexico road rage incident

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Police - Road Rage Incident Leads to 15-Year-Old Driver Being Shot in Head

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A road rage incident between a New Mexico man and a car full of teenage boys ended last month with a 15-year-old driver shot in the head and the other driver behind bars.

Leopoldo J. Jaramillo III, 30, is charged with shooting at or from a motor vehicle (resulting in great bodily harm), five counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one count of reckless driving, according to court records. He remains in the San Miguel County Detention Center awaiting trial.

The injured teen, Angel Ray Sanchez, of Las Vegas, New Mexico, remains in the University of New Mexico Hospital more than a month after the shooting.

His mother, Tina Cook, told KOB-TV in Albuquerque the bullet that struck her son entered his temple and passed through an eye.

"It did hit a portion of the brain, it's affecting him a little bit. Memory, cognitive stuff like that, and it cut through an eye," Cook told the news station.

Angel, a student athlete at West Las Vegas High School, was left blind by the bullet, his mother said. He may also require further surgeries during his long recovery.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Angel with medical bills. Other fundraisers in the Las Vegas area are planned to raise money to help his family.

Court records obtained by the Las Vegas Optic allege that Angel and three other boys were playing video games the night of Jan. 19 when they decided to go for a drive. Around 9:30 p.m., the SUV Angel drove passed a pickup truck that they believed was driven by a friend.

One of the boys threw a water bottle at the truck, the court documents say. The driver of the truck was not their friend, but Jaramillo.

Jaramillo told investigators after hearing a "loud bang" against his truck, he turned around and began chasing the SUV, the Optic reported. The chase wound through several neighborhoods in west Las Vegas before Jaramillo passed the SUV and cut it off.

The records allege that Angel slowed down to go around Jaramillo's truck, at which time the teen's passengers said they heard a gunshot and the rear window of the SUV shattered, the Optic said.

A passenger told detectives Angel began bleeding from the head and his eyes rolled back as his foot stepped on the accelerator, the newspaper reported. The front seat passenger grabbed the steering wheel to regain control, but the SUV surged forward, striking a mailbox and a concrete block before flipping onto its roof.

A surveillance camera from a nearby business captured a portion of the crash, the court records say.

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Jaramillo reportedly admitted blocking the SUV, telling police he wanted to talk to the driver, the Optic reported. He also admitted grabbing his handgun, a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, and firing at the retreating vehicle.

He said he didn’t remember what happened after firing the gun, the court records say.

Jaramillo was found by responding officers about a block from the shooting after he crashed his truck, according to the Optic.

KOB-TV reported that he told police he pointed the gun at the teens to "scare them." He claimed the gun fired when his truck hit a curb.

Cook told the news station about getting the phone call that her son had been shot.

"It was the longest drive of my life," Cook said. "I was just thinking, like, 'How could this have happened? How could this have happened and why?"

The family’s goal is to remain positive.

"Angel believes in God and believes there's a purpose for everything," Cook told the station. "He's just super thankful that he is still here."

The West Las Vegas High School Dons have thrown their support behind the junior varsity basketball player. The team is seen in Facebook photos sporting T-shirts that read "Team Angel."

Rival teams have raised money to help the teen's family. An account was also set up in his name at State Employees Credit Union, according to the Dons' Facebook page

Court records indicate Jaramillo, who was arraigned Monday, is next due in court in September. His jury trial is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 7.

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