Alejandro Ramirez
Alejandro Ramirez (Courtesy photo)
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FARMINGTON — The victim in Saturday evening's homicide was targeted during two drive-by shootings in recent years that police said may have been retaliation for a gang-related unsolved murder in 2008.

Johnny Benjamin Vialpando, 25, was shot 15 times in front of his wife and three children while he was a passenger in a vehicle parked at Animas Valley Mall on Saturday evening. He died later that night.

Alejandro Ramirez, 22, and Luis Ramirez, 28, were arrested Saturday on suspicion of murder and other charges in connection to the shooting.

They declined to speak to investigators and were booked into San Juan County Adult Detention Center on a $1 million cash-only bond.

The two brothers have been charged with an open count of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with evidence, three counts of child abuse and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Witnesses to the shooting said Vialpando was sitting in the passenger seat of a dark sport utility vehicle shortly before 5 p.m. when a white Chevrolet Blazer pulled up behind them and blocked the vehicle from leaving, according to court documents.

A suspect matching Alejandro Ramirez's description got out of the Blazer and spoke to Vialpando. The suspect acted nervous and "sketchy," according to the documents.

He allegedly went back to his vehicle, grabbed a gun, pointed it at Vialpando and said: "This is for Gary," as he started shooting, according to the documents.


Vialpando's children told police their dad's body was "bouncing around," when he shot, according to the documents.

"Miraculously, none of the children suffered any gunshot wounds," Farmington police Detective Heather Chavez wrote in a police report.

The Ramirez brothers, who live in Kirtland, allegedly fled after the shooting and were arrested by San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies. Police a found semi-automatic hand gun that was believed to be used in the shooting near county roads 350 and 3000, according to court documents.

Luis Ramon Ramirez
Luis Ramon Ramirez (courtesy photo)

The gun will be tested to determine if it was used in the slaying, Farmington police Detective Cpl. Russ Bradford said.

Court documents said that the shooting might have been in response to the unsolved 2008 homicide.

In October of that year, Gary Martinez, 17, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting outside of his home in the 600 block of Taos Avenue, said Detective Sgt. Brandon Lane, who was in the Farmington Police gang unit at the time of the shooting.

Police believe two cars drove past Martinez's house and may have started shooting at the teenager. Martinez was shot once in the head and died.

Lane said one of the cars used in that shooting matched the car that Vialpando was driving in 2008.

Police considered the shooting to be gang related because Martinez, Vialpando and their associates were known gang members, he said.

A gang unit on patrol the night after Martinez's death witnessed a drive-by shooting at Vialpando's house. The gang unit arrested the suspect.

Lane said several years later, Vialpando's house was again targeted in a drive-by shooting.

After that shooting, Lane said Vialpando left the area for awhile and hadn't had an altercation with police in several years.

No one was ever charged with a crime and the Martinez homicide remains unsolved, sheriff's Detective Lt. Cory Tanner said.

Police would not confirm Monday whether the Ramirez brothers have gang affiliations.

Ryan Boetel can be reached at; 505-564-4644. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel.