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APD arrests suspect for 2021 murder of homeless victim

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

ALBUQUERQUE – APD homicide detectives arrested Santiago Silva on Tuesday and charged him for the 2021 murder of a homeless man during a confrontation in alley behind the Quick Track gas station located at 1720 Central Ave., S.E.


Surveillance video from the night of the incident shows Silva walking in the alley and meet up with another individual who drives up in a red Pontiac during the overnight hours of July 29, 2021. Silva, the driver of the vehicle, and the victim, later identified as Matthew Chavez, are seen talking before the driver returns to the vehicle.


The video shows Silva, who was 17 at the time, and Chavez, 23, continuing to talk when Silva pulls a handgun from his sweatshirt pocket. Silva eventually grips the handgun with two hands and fires one round, striking Chavez. Silva picked up several items from the ground and ran through an empty parking lot. The vehicle can been seen again after the shooting, leaving the area onto Pine St., S.E.


Chavez died from a single gunshot wound.


In the days following the shooting, detectives linked a bullet casing found at the scene to four additional shooting cases. A month later, APD detectives were conducting a serial robbery investigation when they observed three men rob a smoke shop and flee to a home in Southeast Albuquerque. Detectives detained three suspect, including Silva. They discovered bullet casings at that scene that linked the robbery investigation to the homicide of Chavez.


On Tuesday, homicide detectives were contacted by a Juvenile Probation officer who said Silva wanted to speak with them. Silva was a juvenile at the time of the homicide. He told detectives that Chavez asked him for narcotics, which led to a physical altercation. He claims the he fought Chavez over a handgun and when he got custody of it, he shot the gun one time, striking Chavez. He said he fled the scene and later decided not to call police. He said he was on drugs at the time, which made him paranoid.


Detectives executed a search warrant at Silva’s home on Tuesday and located a pair of pants that match the pants seen on surveillance footage.


Silva was booked into the Metro Detention Center on an open count of murder, robbery, and tampering with evidence.