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Press Release

Violent Shooting Spree Leads to Arrest of Suspect in Gallup

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – A man is facing federal charges for murder following a violent day-long crime spree in Gallup, New Mexico.

The criminal complaint alleges that on April 24, 2024, a family traveling south on U.S. Highway 491 reported to law enforcement that they had been followed, rear-ended, and shot at by someone sitting in the front passenger seat of a white SUV.

Further investigation revealed that earlier that day, Rydell Happy, 30, and two others had been involved in a separate shooting incident in Gallup, New Mexico, where a third individual was shot at Happy's direction.

After the shooting on the highway, the group continued driving south, and one of the vehicle's occupants, John Doe, began to argue with Happy. Happy then ordered the group to get out of the car, and once they had done so, he shot John Doe. Happy then grabbed a baseball bat and began hitting John Doe in the head. Happy and one of the others then dragged John Doe's body over the edge of a nearby cliff.

Following reports of the earlier shooting on Highway 491, officers from the Navajo Nation Police Department were on the lookout for a white SUV. Officers later observed a vehicle matching the description and pursued. The driver fled, but eventually crashed the SUV, and three individuals, including Happy, were apprehended.

Through follow-up investigation, investigators were able to find John Doe's body, which showed signs of severe head trauma.

 If convicted of the current charges, Happy faces up to life in prison.

U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office, made the announcement today.

The Farmington Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Police Department and Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Eliot Neal is prosecuting the case.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Regional Outreach Program, which aims to aid in the prevention and response to missing or murdered Indigenous people through the resolution of MMIP cases and communication, coordination, and collaboration with federal, Tribal, state, and local partners.  The Department views this work as a priority for its law enforcement components.  Through the MMIP Regional Outreach Program, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify MMIP cases and issues in Tribal communities and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. This prosecution upholds the Department’s mission to the unwavering pursuit of justice on behalf of Indigenous victims and their families.  

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Updated May 10, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-169