The Roswell Police Department secured an arrest warrant for Thomas Martinez, 28, on charges of second-degree murder for the slaying of Arthur Contreras, 22. The homicide occurred Wednesday around 10 p.m.
Sgt. Ray Sharp first notified dispatch about shots fired in the area around Bland Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The RPD then received additional calls about shots fired. Police responded. In the affidavit of criminal complaint, lead investigator Detective Robert Scribner’s description of the scene in the 200 block of Bland is stark: there was “a body lying across the steps of the front porch, with the head on the porch and feet on the sidewalk.”
The passenger window and rear cargo door on a white SUV parked in the driveway were shattered. A bullet hole penetrated the speedometer. Impact marks were found at the victim’s home on east Bland while five bullets had penetrated a neighboring house. Officials found 24 spent shell casings in the area. Some located on Pennsylvania Avenue north of Bland Street continuing just north of the alley. Casings were also found north of Deming Street.
Individuals who live on Bland Street reported a horrific night. People gathered their children—one took their children to the back rooms away from the windows, others pulled their children onto the floor and laid on top of them to protect them from bullets. One said a man in dark clothes came to the house with a rifle, firing repeatedly. Another reported a handgun. Most reported between 15 to 20 shots fired.
All statements recorded in the complaint appear to agree that the homicide originated with a long-standing feud between the victim and the alleged shooter, Martinez. According to the family, the initial altercation had to do with a burglary when Martinez accused Contreras of stealing items from his vehicle. Neighbors, who did not know the victim or his family well, said that Martinez would drive by the house daily to taunt Contreras.
The homicide followed a series of altercations during the day at Martinez’s place of employment at Auto Zone and later near his Deming Street home. The document states that in the evening witnesses in front of the Martinez household saw a white SUV with a “man hanging out of it.” They heard gunfire. Men who were outside the Martinez residence returned fire.
When the police conducted a search of the Martinez residence the next day, they located $1,321 worth of marijuana, or about 36 plants, growing in a basement, along with more than a pound of marijuana. Martinez was charged with possession and distribution of marijuana and arrested at that time on a $75,000 bond.
During subsequent interviews, Martinez at first denied having anything to do with the homicide. Later he told detectives that he and his family had been threatened by Contreras, and he “was pushed over the edge.” He admitted to firing two shots at Contreras after Contreras pulled a gun on him. The documents also report that Martinez said to Detective Kim Northcutt that (in the same situation) “even Detective Northcutt would have done the same thing.”
Martinez remains at Chaves County Detention Center on a $1 million cash or surety bond.