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story.lead_photo.caption Workers remove the statue of Spanish explorer Juan de Onate on Tuesday outside the Albuquerque Museum in New Mexico. More photos at arkansasonline.com/617nm/.
(AP/The Albuquerque Journal/Jim Thompson)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A 31-year-old man has been arrested in a shooting that happened as protesters in Albuquerque, N.M., tried to tear down a bronze statue of a Spanish conquistador outside a museum, police said Tuesday.

Police said Stephen Ray Baca, who appeared to be protecting the statue and opened fire after people pursued and hit him, was arrested and jailed on suspicion of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Baca was once a candidate for the Albuquerque City Council and is the son of a former Bernalillo County sheriff.

Gallery: New Mexico protest

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Baca had been among those trying to protect the statue when protesters "appeared to maliciously pursue him," according to a criminal complaint. Video posted on social media showed protesters hitting Baca with a skateboard and punching him before he opened fire.

One man was shot and hospitalized Monday night in critical but stable condition, said Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos. A criminal complaint said the victim, Scott Williams, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.

Someone in the video encouraged people to follow Baca and get his license plate number. Several people followed him, and one tackled him to the ground.

According to the complaint, Williams -- the gunshot victim, dressed in black -- can be seen on bystander video retrieving the board and swinging it toward Baca's upper body and head. Then, the complaint says, Baca fired several shots. The crowd scattered.

After the shooting, other armed people encircled Baca, the video showed. Online court records did not list an attorney for Baca who could comment on his behalf.

The shooting occurred near the scene of a Monday night confrontation between protesters and a group of armed men who were trying to protect the statue of Juan de Onate.

Protesters wrapped a chain around the statue and began tugging on it while chanting: "Tear it down." One protester repeatedly swung a pickax at the base of the statue.

Moments later, gunshots rang out down the street and people yelled that someone had been shot.

Two Onate statues have been a source of criticism for decades in the state.

Onate, who arrived in New Mexico in 1598, is celebrated as a cultural father figure in communities along the Upper Rio Grande that trace their ancestry to Spanish settlers. But he's also reviled for his brutality among American Indians.

The shooting prompted the city to announce the statue would be removed until officials determine their next steps.

The Albuquerque Journal reports members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, a self-described civilian militia group, showed up to protect the statue and later intervened as protesters tried to remove it.

The group says it is not affiliated with the shooting suspect.

Police Chief Michael Geier said investigators had received "reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence."

"If this is true, [we] will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution," Geier said.

Police used tear gas and flash bangs to protect officers who intervened and detained Baca and the armed people who had surrounded him, Gallegos said. He said they were disarmed and taken into custody for questioning. Detectives were investigating with the help of the FBI.

"The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city," Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us."

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham accused the armed people of being there to menace protesters and said there was no room in New Mexico for the escalation of "reckless, violent rhetoric."

Information for this article was contributed by Susan Montoya Bryan, Cesar Attansio, Paul Davenport and Morgan Lee of The Associated Press; and by Katie Shepherd, Abigail Hauslohner, Hannah Knowles, Julie Tate, Matt Zapotosky and Katie Mettler of The Washington Post.

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Albuquerque police detain members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, an armed civilian group, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Albuquerque, N.M. A confrontation erupted between protesters and a group of armed men who were trying to protect a statue of Spanish conquerer Juan de Oñate before protesters wrapped a chain around it and began tugging on it while chanting: “Tear it down.” One protester repeatedly swung a pickax at the base of the statue. Moments later a few gunshots could be heard down the street and people started yelling that someone had been shot. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)
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Protesters attach a chain to a statue of Spanish conquerer Juan de Oñate in Albuquerque, N.M., Monday, June 15, 2020. One man was shot during an exchange between protesters and armed members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, a civilian group trying to protect the monument. (Anthony Jackson/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)
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A man named Thantsideh (sunbird in his native Tewa language) stands on the pedestal built for a statue of Juan de Oñate, as he argues wit fellow Hispanic residents of Northern New Mexico over the removal of the statue Monday, June 15, 2020, in Alcalde, N.M.. Oñate violently established colonial outposts in the 16th century in the region and was the first European leader to settle there. County officials removed the statue Monday to avoid unrest ahead of a planned protest. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
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Albuquerque police detain members of the New Mexico Civil Guard, an armed civilian group, following the shooting of a man during a protest over a statue of Spanish conquerer Juan de Oñate on Monday, June 15, 2020, in Albuquerque, N.M. A confrontation erupted between protesters and a group of armed men who were trying to protect the statue before protesters wrapped a chain around it and began tugging on it while chanting: “Tear it down.” One protester repeatedly swung a pickax at the base of the statue. Moments later a few gunshots could be heard down the street and people started yelling that someone had been shot. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)
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This bronze statue of Don Juan de Oñate leading a group of Spanish settlers from an area near what is now Ciudad Chihuahua, Mexico, to what was then the northern most province of New Spain in 1598 stands outside the Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, June 12, 2020. The collection of statues, which includes an indigenous guide, a priest, women settlers and soldiers, is titled "La Jornada." Two public statues of Spanish conqueror Juan de Oñate in New Mexico are drawing renewed attention and criticism as memorials erected in honor of Confederate leaders and other historical figures worldwide become a focus of protests. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
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Esta fotografía muestra una estatua de bronce de Don Juan de Oñate afuera de un museo de Albuquerque, en Nuevo México. (AP Foto/Susan Montoya Bryan)
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Construction workers remove a statue of Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate from in front of the Albuquerque Museum, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in Albuquerque, N.M. The statue was at the center of a protest Monday, June 15, where one man was shot. (Jim Thompson/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)
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Rio Arriba County workers remove the bronze statue of Spanish conquerer Juan de Oñate from its pedestal in front of a cultural center in Alcalde, N.M., Monday, June 15, 2020. Crowds of people for and against the removal lined Highway 68 near of the center. (Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)
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In this undated photo provided by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office is Stephen Ray Baca. Albuquerque police say they have arrested a man in a shooting that happened as protesters tried to tear down a bronze statue of a Spanish conquistador outside a museum. Police said 31-year-old Baca was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery in the Monday, June 15, 2020, shooting that critically wounded a man. (Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office via AP)

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