Daniel Rufenacht

After a seven-hour standoff on Friday, law enforcement officers in Magdalena tactically entered a home and apprehended a murder suspect in a case that has left a 39-year-old woman dead and a 72-year-old man injured.

According to court documents, Magdalena resident, Daniel Rufenacht, 55, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Law enforcement responded to a shooting in Magdalena Friday afternoon sometime after 2 p.m. that left Magdalena resident Sandra Apachito dead and Fred Leyba injured.
After almost seven hours of coaxing him out of his residence Rufenacht was apprehended.

Arresting officer Tim Gutierrez, a Magdalena deputy, said that Socorro County Sheriff’s deputies were already on the scene with their firearms out when he was called out to Pine Street. Gutierrez noted upon arrival at the scene, he saw someone lying on the floor.

“I walked up, and I got close, and I immediately identified Freddie Leyba; he was on the ground hurt and complaining that he got shot in the butt,” Gutierrez said.
“They were working on an abandoned truck that was stripped, and Leyba was taking a part of the tire off and bent over with his back towards Daniel,” Gutierrez said.

He said the neighbors called the police when they heard the first gunshot. Gutierrez believes that after Leyba was shot, Sandra Apachito got up to move away and was shot in the shoulder. The autopsy has not been released, he said, but she was pronounced dead on the scene, and PHI, the air ambulance, took Leyba to receive medical attention.

After hours of law enforcement talking to Rufenacht, he was apprehended close to 9 p.m. Those in the neighborhood reported hearing law enforcement on the megaphone for hours asking him to surrender. An anonymous person posted several videos of the scene on Facebook on the Socorro Safety Watch group.

“We were on the PA, we constantly had somebody talking to him, the marshal, sheriff’s office, and state police kept telling him that you need to come out,” Gutierrez said. “We ended up going in and apprehending him, and he went peacefully.”

There was a question of whether the suspect was in the camper trailer next to the house, where friends and neighbors said he lived, so officers entered the trailer first, and he was not inside.

“We went in the house, and during our search, he was laying on the floor face down; he had pretty much surrendered and didn’t resist,” Gutierrez said. “He was remorseful and was surprised by the charge after I read him his rights. He just couldn’t believe it happened. He was more trying to scare them than actually do them harm.”

“Nobody won; it turned out bad for everybody; it’s just a bad situation; everybody lost, and it’s unexpected in a small town,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a call you’d rather not have to do; it’s just so sad that somebody lost their life because someone was frustrated. I feel sorry for the families, all of them.”

Gutierrez said that all the law enforcement agencies worked together, and he was grateful no more people were hurt.

*editor’s note: This is a developing story and was last updated Jan.3 at 12:30 p.m.