Couple detained in armed shoplifting incidents

·2 min read

May 26—A judge decided to detain a couple accused of shoplifting and threatening store employees with a gun in separate incidents around Albuquerque this year.

Mary Rousseau, 39, and Nathan Tapia, 29, are each charged with two counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and conspiracy charges in two separate incidents in February and April. Rousseau is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors wrote in a pretrial detention motion that the couple "escalated a simple theft to a violent, armed confrontation" and Rousseau — who allegedly fired at employees in one instance — "greatly increased the potential for death or great bodily harm to occur."

Tapia's attorney, Douglas Wilber, questioned the charge of shooting at or from a motor vehicle for his client as police say it was Rousseau who fired the gun.

He also thought prosecutors were trying to inflate the charges against Tapia with armed robbery rather than shoplifting.

"Either allegation is scary but there's a big difference between the two," he said, adding that Tapia may not be as dangerous as "the state's trying to say he is."

Rousseau's attorney could not be reached for comment.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court:

Officers responded on Feb. 23 to a shoplifting call at the Walmart near Coors and Rio Bravo SW. Store security told police a couple switched price tags at the self-checkout and were confronted by employees.

Store security said the man then tried to pull a gun from his waist, but it was stuck in his pants before saying, "I'm going to start blasting people." At that point employees backed off and the couple fled in a Jeep.

Then, on April 17, police responded to reports of gunfire at the Sam's Club near Coors Bypass and Alameda NW. Store employees told officers a man and woman tried to leave the store without paying for items when they were confronted by security.

The man punched one employee in the face, told them he was armed and the pair ran out of the store. Employees followed the two into the parking lot and the woman pulled a revolver from a Jeep and fired two shots at them.

Police were able to track the Jeep to its original owner, who said it was sold to Tapia and Rousseau. Detectives identified the two in security footage of the incidents due to their tattoos, Tapia's "distinct large ears" and Rousseau's habit of wearing a COVID-19 mask "just below" her nose.

On April 29, Rio Rancho police arrested Tapia and Rousseau on warrants out of Sandoval County in a separate incident where the pair allegedly burglarized a vehicle and used the stolen license and cards.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting