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Artesia man killed over dog dispute; Police say shooting victim had come to defense of girlfriend, family

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Ruben Lopez

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

ARTESIA – A man accused of fatally shooting another Artesia man in the head following a disagreement Monday night about an alleged stolen dog has been charged with murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to the criminal complaint from the Artesia Police Department, it was at 9:15 p.m. Monday when authorities were advised of a shooting in the 900 block of Bullock Court in Artesia.

Ruben Lopez, 25, was charged Tuesday with an open count of murder in the first degree, and a count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a fourth-degree felony.

The victim, 34-year-old Ronald McClean, was transported to Artesia General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead Tuesday at 1:44 a.m. Police said they observed a gunshot wound above and to the left of McClean’s left eyebrow.

APD Detective Gracie Gonzales made contact with McClean’s girlfriend after the shooting. According to her narrative in the criminal complaint, Lopez, a friend of the family, arrived at McClean’s home Monday night, yelling at the girlfriend’s nephews. Gonzales said Lopez was upset about a dog he had been sold Sunday.

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“Ruben claimed the dog they sold him was stolen,” Gonzales wrote. “Ruben began threatening to take things from the house in return.”

Gonzales was also told from witnesses that Lopez was holding a gun in his hands during the threats — even pointing the gun at the girlfriend’s nephew.

“When Ruben began threatening to take things from her house, she told him that there was no need for him to be disrespecting her house,” Gonzales wrote. “(The girlfriend) told Ruben he would not be taking property from the house because it was hers.”

Police said Lopez then pointed the gun towards McClean’s girlfriend. She told Detective Gonzales she was afraid for her life.

Police said it was then that McClean intervened. Multiple witnesses said McClean was pushed back and shot by Lopez.

While there is no set court appearance for these charges, Lopez has a criminal history that includes concealing identity and possession of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids in 2013, which was later dismissed, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, of which he was found guilty in 2015.

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.