B.J. Lesperance begins work on a new mural of Lonnie Zamora on the side of the San Miguel Pottery Land building.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain photos

A Socorro business owner believes that the city of Socorro could attract more tourists by promoting a local UFO sighting.

On April 24, 1964, Socorro police officer Lonnie Zamora reported seeing an unidentified flying object. The sighting was subsequently reported by El Defensor Chieftain and investigated by U.S. Air Force Project Blue Book personnel.

In 1964, the Chieftain reported:

City Policeman Lonnie Zamora, a highly reliable source, saw a four-legged, egg-shaped object, and two persons in a gully a mile south of the courthouse shortly before 6 p.m. Friday. He saw the object rise straight up and take off, and disappear beyond Six-Mile Canyon to the west. Some of the evidence of the landing and takeoff remained in the gully. There were four shallow holes where the object apparently landed on its legs; there were burned greasewood and seared clumps of green grass; there were two round, very slight depressions. No footprints were found.

San Miguel Pottery Land owner Joe Torres already uses the lure of aliens to increase business and attract tourists. Large green alien statues are stationed outside of his business holding guns and smoking and smaller ceramic figurines are on sale. He’s always sure to tell the story to interested visitors, and frequently people stop to take photos with the aliens outside the store.

Joe Torres hopes a new mural of Lonnie Zamora will honor the former Socorro police officer and increase interest in the UFO story.

Torres plans to promote the story further with a new mural painted on the side of his store, which he hopes will also honor Zamora, who dealt with a lot of teasing over the incident.

“When I heard the story, they said that Lonnie took a lot of crap over it. A lot of people just didn’t believe the man, and he got teased a lot. My grandfather, Joe Torres Sr., he said that there was times where Lonnie says, ‘I really seen something, but sometimes with all the bullshit that they give me and all the kidding around, it’s not worth me saying that,’ but he goes, ‘I have to stick to my word. I did see it.’”

The mural will not be the first in town to depict Zamora. The City of Socorro itself commissioned a mural depicting Zamora’s sighting.

The new mural will depict Zamora in his police uniform, along with a small write up about who he was. It will also include an artist’s interpretation of the egg-shaped craft Zamora reported seeing, the symbol he said he saw on the craft, and the figures he reported seeing in white coveralls near the craft.

Muralist B.J. Lesperance is already hard at work on the painting. Lesperance has painted other murals around town, including a mural of a rattlesnake transforming into a phoenix inside of Finley Gym.

Torres would like the city to take remembering the reported UFO sighting farther than just a new mural. He envisions a whole alien themed festival that could commemorate the story. He believes Socorro’s UFO story is much more compelling than Roswell’s 1947 ‘flying saucer’ report and could similarly draw out-of-state tourists.

“Roswell, they get free money bags with all the tourists going into that place, and we have the story here, it’s just nobody’s done anything where they have,” said Torres.