Another LCPD shooting, further Virgin Galactic delays, remembering William Clark

·6 min read

The second police shooting in a week was another shoplifting call, LCPD says

Police say a shoplifting call at a Las Cruces gas station turned fatal when an officer shot a man Tuesday evening.

Details emerged Wednesday after Las Cruces Police Department Chief Miguel Dominguez hosted a news conference at City Hall. The incident began around 4 p.m. when an employee of the Chevron on Valley Avenue called the police, according to Dominguez. The employee said that a 36-year-old man had shoplifted beer from the convenience store and was drinking near the gas pumps.

Dominguez said that when police arrived, they asked for the man's identification. The man provided a name that the officers could not match in their identification database, Dominguez said. The 36-year-old man sat in a car with two other men at this point, Dominguez said.

In the moments that followed, the man was shot and killed by LCPD officers. It was the second police shooting in a week, and both stemmed from alleged shoplifting incidents. Unlike the previous incident, this one was fatal.

Justin Garcia, who covers public safety for the Sun-News, has been following these stories as they have developed. He said:

This was a tough week. Between the police shooting and the road rage shooting, reporting out these stories has been a difficult task. Of course, nothing was made easier by the fact that the last week was the anniversary of the Celio Vista/El Paso Shooting. 

Weeks like that make me question a lot of things. So much death surrounds us. Much of it was entirely avoidable too. Typically, those stories bring a lot of attention for the website and newspaper. But they also point to a tough reality that most people would rather turn away from. I wish there was some way to let people what's going on but with more compassion. 

Virgin Galactic announces new delay in space flight program in investor call

Virgin Galactic told investors during its earnings report Thursday that its commercial space flight service will be delayed once more, and is not expected to begin until the second quarter of 2023.

The company is the anchor tenant of New Mexico's Spaceport America, in Sierra County, from which it plans to launch passenger flights to the edge of space. The company flew a test flight with a full passenger cabin, including Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, 13 months ago and since then has been in a maintenance period servicing its rocket plane and the aircraft that carries it into the air during the horizontal launch sequence.

Previously it had aimed to conclude its testing phase and begin commercial service early next year.

During the earnings call, CEO Michael Colglazier said the latest delay was because of longer-than-expected improvements for VMS Eve, the carrier aircraft, at its Mojave, Calif. manufacturing base.

Perhaps of greater importance to residents (and taxpayers) of Doña Ana and Sierra counties was the news that broke Tuesday about the company's plans to build a training and hospitality center for its passengers near the Spaceport.

The facilities, the company announced, are to feature guest accommodations for Virgin Galactic passengers and up to three guests, with an observatory, recreational and dining services, and wellness center in addition to facilities preparing passengers for their flight 50 miles above the earth on Virgin Galactic's space plane.

The company has promised its customers, referred to as "future astronauts," luxury accommodations ahead of their brief flight in which the VSS Unity rocket plane takes off in the arms of a carrier aircraft, is released from an altitude of about 50,000 feet and engages a rocket motor to reach a speed of Mach 3 for its climb to 50 miles above sea level. Passengers experience a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the Earth from above before the craft descends for a glide landing back at the spaceport.

Sun-News reporter Algernon D'Ammassa has been watching the developments closely. He said:

Two days before a tough investor call where it would report more heavy financial losses and another delay to beginning commercial service, Virgin Galactic announced it had acquired land in Sierra County to build training facilities and luxury accommodations for its passengers and invited guests.

Little is known about how extensive the accommodations will be or whether this undercuts previous promises of economic activity via space tourism. Virgin Galactic is aiming to fly hundreds of passengers each year and it has always planned to provide some accommodations for its customers. As we learn more about what developments are in store we will better assess whether that changes expectations about Virgin Galactic's economic impact. In the meantime, the company is not expected to begin commercial service until mid-2023 or so.

Las Cruces remembers long-time music educator William Clark

Las Cruces lost a giant in the music world this week with the passing of William Clark, Ph.D.

Clark was director of bands at New Mexico State University beginning in 1985 and founded the Mesilla Valley Concert Band and New Horizons Band and influenced generations of area musicians. As news of his passing on July 31 spread, social media was flooded with tributes and memories of the longtime educator who earned a doctorate in music education and was affectionately known as "Doc."

Originally from Arkansas, Clark was one of three children born to an engineer and a schoolteacher. His family was a musical one, his father playing several instruments and his aunt teaching music to public school students. Clark took up trumpet, then tuba, in his secondary school and higher education days.

His impact in Doña Ana County — and across New Mexico — is nearly immeasurable. Reporter Leah Romero wrote about the legacy "Doc" leaves behind:

Las Cruces music educator and former New Mexico State University Director of Bands William Clark passed away July 31. He was 84.

I heard about Clark's passing from multiple Facebook posts. I was able to reach his daughters, Robin Madrid and Lisa Arterbury, who both agreed to talk to me about their father's life and legacy.

I didn't know Clark personally, but I do have a lot of memories of him from when I was a flute player in middle, high school and college bands in the Las Cruces area. Clark conducted the All-City Middle School Honor Band when I performed, and he was always a welcome guest in class — particularly when we were struggling with a march.

Clark left a lasting impression on the music community of New Mexico and every student he worked with, both directly and indirectly. His influence will live on in the performances of ensembles he conducted in recent years, including the Mesilla Valley Concert Band and New Horizons Band. He will be missed and remembered by many.

Cannabis comes to Mesilla

A cannabis dispensary may soon join the mix of restaurants, jewelry stores, souvenir shops and other businesses near Mesilla's historic plaza.

On Monday, the town's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved its first cannabis business application. The Board of Trustees must grant its confirmation as well but there did not appear to be any issues jeopardizing passage.

Marshall McGinley, a local cattleman and business owner, was granted a municipal license to operate NM Cannabis Cowboy, a retail cannabis shop, in a small retail space on Calle de San Albino, two blocks away from the plaza.

McGinley had previously obtained the required license from New Mexico's Cannabis Control Division, including approval of his plans for security features and cameras at the site, all of which he submitted to the commissioners along with his articles of incorporation and a letter from the property owner endorsing his application.

Things didn't go so well for a second proposed cannabis business.

Algernon attended the historic Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in Mesilla. He said:

Mesilla's Planning and Zoning Commission approved its first application for an adult-use cannabis dispensary in the town's historic district and, as our story shows, there was some confusion about the application of the town's new cannabis ordinance. The addition of cannabis shops itself was not controversial so much as the process of vetting and approving applications.

Hot air balloons float over Elephant Butte Lake while the crowd watches during the Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.
Hot air balloons float over Elephant Butte Lake while the crowd watches during the Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.

PHOTOS: Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta 2022

Hot air balloons floated over Elephant Butte Lake Saturday morning while crowds gathered to watch during Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta. Las Cruces Sun-News photojournalist Meg Potter was there to cover the morning launch, and she got some great photos.

Meg said:

I’ve only lived in New Mexico for a few months, so this was my first time at Elephant Butte Lake. The drive up there was beautiful, I got there just in time to see the golden morning light peek out from behind the mountains. But, by far, my favorite sight from the morning were the vibrant colors of balloons reflected on the water.

Cassie McClure
Cassie McClure

The Reporter's Notebook Podcast, Ep. 28: Cassie McClure

In this week’s episode of The Reporter's Notebook Podcast, we’re talking to Cassie McClure, who has written the column “My So-Called Millennial Life” for the Las Cruces Sun-News for many years. Since then, it has been picked up and nationally syndicated by Creators — a media and syndication company that has represented more than 250 of the most talented writers and artists in the world. Its talent has won several Pulitzer Prizes, Reuben awards and Peabody awards.

In recent years, Cassie has also been a prolific freelance writer. She has worked for a number of publications around the city, and has also done freelance writing for some of the biggest employers in Doña Ana County. We wanted to talk to her about what is often called the “gig economy.” Cassie has also worked in a more “traditional” public relations job, so she has a unique perspective to share.

On behalf of all of us at the Las Cruces Sun-News, thank you for taking the time to read this week's newsletter.

Damien Willis is a Lead Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-541-5443, dwillis@lcsun-news.com or @DamienWillis on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Another LCPD shooting, Virgin Galactic delays, remembering "Doc" Clark