Congressional candidate charged in tire slashings

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A former congressional candidate was arrested on felony vandalism charges Friday evening for allegedly slashing the tires of his political rival.

Police say Gary Smith, who launched a run for Congress as a Republican this year, slashed the tires of his GOP rival Janice Arnold-Jones on multiple occasions. The last incident was caught on camera.

“It's 3 in the morning; he's dressed in pajama pants, slippers, what appears to be a leather jacket,” Detective Lorenzo Garcia of the Albuquerque Police Department said while watching the video. “It seems like he's taking his frustration out on her vehicle now.”

The surveillance video from Arnold-Jones shows taking two jabs at the front tire of her SUV then turning and takes three stabs at a tire on her pickup truck -- while wearing a leather jacket, pajama bottoms and slippers.

Hours later Arnold-Jones would walk of her house and find all of her tires flat. When she looked at the video she would find a familiar face.

“We recorded Gary Smith, in my opinion, taking out another set of tires,” Arnold-Jones said.

The incident that was recorded was the second time Arnold-Jones’ tires were slashed in her driveway. She said that is why she set up the cameras a couple of weeks ago.

In the Republican preprimary convention, Smith received only 3 percent of the votes compared to Arnold Jones’ 63 percent. 

Later, Arnold-Jones filed a lawsuit challenging whether Smith’s petition signatures were valid.

A judge decided they weren’t and that kicked him out of the race entirely.

“He did not have the signatures. He did not qualify for the ballot,” Arnold Jones said.

Arnold-Jones hadn’t heard much of Smith since then. That was until she and three other Republicans became victims to a flat-tire vandal. One of the victims was Smith's campaign manager Rhead Story.

“I called and asked Rhead, 'Is this happening to you?'” Arnold-Jones said. “His story is remarkable. He’s lost over 45 tires.”

Story shared surveillance video with KRQE News 13. In it he says it shows Smith slashing his tires.

That gave police two pieces of evidence. Detectives compared one of the videos with a Motor Vehicle Division photo of Smith and then issued a warrant for his arrest.

Before he was arrested Friday afternoon News 13 caught up with Smith and asked him about the allegations.

“I'm totally shocked; I’m off-guard," Smith said. "I don't know anything that's going on here.”

From behind a metal screen door Smith professed his innocence even after he was told him about the video.

“I don't even know where Jones lives, to tell you the truth,” Smith said.

Detectives said more charges could follow.

“All the arrows point to him, but at this point we can't say it's him,” Garcia said.

Smith’s campaign biography says he served in the Army for 20 years before running for Congress.

Copyright 2014 KRQE TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.
 
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