By Bill Diven
Melina Jones's night out with friends ended with her being shot dead in a Downtown Albuquerque parking lot. A lawsuit contends the lot should have been made safer by its owner.
The lawsuit lays out a timeline on Aug. 22 when Jones, 21, and female friends parked in the lot at 212 Central Ave. SE. They had been talking for about 30 minutes when a man left a group of his friends and joined the conversation.
At some point the man insulted one of Jones's friends, leading her to intervene, sparking a "heated confrontation." The man left but returned with a gun and shot Jones multiple times.
The Albuquerque Police Department reported that officers already responding to the parking lot at 1:15 a.m. found several people fighting. A sergeant witnessed the shooting and fired at the gunman without hitting him, according to an APD news release.
The shooter, alleged in the lawsuit to be Damian Gallegos, fled and still remains at large.
The parking lot is known as a notorious "hot spot for violent crime," according to the suit filed on Oct. 18 by the Hall Monagle Huffman & Wallace law firm on behalf of Marshana Jones, Melina's aunt. Melina had lived with her aunt in Bernalillo from childhood until a few months before her death, according to court records.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary and punitive damages and alleges the lot owner canceled a security contract several weeks before the shooting to save money.
"There are lots of businesses that should have heightened security and don't," attorney Levi Monagle told The Signpost. "You see this as a consequence."
The lawsuit identifies the lot owner as Two Hundred Central LLC, a holding company, and a company news release lists attorneys Thomas and William Keleher as the company's registered agents. Thomas Keleher, who told The Signpost that he, his brother and others own the company, declined to discuss details of the lawsuit and said it will be turned over to their insurance carrier.
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