- Juneanne Fannell was shot at her Rio Rancho home four hours after telling police she feared for her life
- Suspect Henry Cardana also urged cops to remove her ‘for her own safety’ during call on April 5
- But during their visit, police complimented Cardana on his ‘nice’ guns and said they respected that he was a ‘firearms man’
- The killing has sparked questions over why police did not remove Cardana’s guns under New Mexico’s Red Flag laws
An elderly New Mexico woman was shot dead in her home by her carer hours after telling cops she feared for her life, prosecutors say.
Juneanne Fannell, 82, was allegedly killed by Henry Cardana in her Rio Rancho residence in April just four hours after she begged police not to leave her alone with the suspect.
Cardana had called 911 himself urging them to remove the senior citizen ‘for her own safety’ before they arrived the property.
During the visit Fannell told cops Cardana had threatened to kill her, but instead of confiscating weapons under the state’s red flag gun laws, the officers complimented Cardana on his weapons haul.
Shocking footage shows the police laughing and joking with Cardana in what would be the final moments of Fannell’s life.
In the 911 call prior to the house call, Cardana, who had been a caregiver to Fannell for several years, tells police that they need to remove her ‘for her own safety’.
‘She’s a hospital hospice patient and she’s uncontrollable. I can’t control her any more. She needs for her own safety, get her the hell out of here,’ he can be heard saying in audio obtained by Koat 7.
Fannell then speaks with a 911 operator to confirm she feels she is in danger and that there are weapons in the home.
Police visited the property just before 8am on April 5. In an exchange with Cardana, they can be heard congratulating him on being a ‘firearms guy’.
The suspect then confirms the weapons are ‘loaded’ and ‘ready to go’.
‘I like folks that have guns, because I have guns, ‘ one of the officers tells him.
A nervous Fannell then begs the officers not to leave her.
‘Please don’t. Please don’t leave,’ she whimpers as the cops inform her they ‘can’t’ stay.
Then Cardana makes a chilling joke, telling her: ‘You’re fine until I kill you.’
Fannell then informs the cops that he has ‘threatened to do that’ before but they leave anyway. Within four hours she was dead.
A neighbor then called 911 again reporting that a screaming Cardana had told her he had killed Fannell.
When cops arrived back on the scene, they found him covered in blood. He has been charged with murder and the case is continuing to make its way through the courts.
Bodycam footage shows a distressed Cardana blaming police for Fannell’s death.
‘You’re not listening, You didn’t help me at all,’ he cries. ‘It’s all your fault, you guys caused this.’
The tragedy has prompted criticism of Rio Rancho police over their failure to exercise their power to seize firearms from those they suspect could do harm under the state’s Red Flag gun law.
The Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act permits to authorities to obtain a petition from the court to temporarily remove weapons from an individual they suspect could be at risk of hurting themselves or others.
The controversial law was passed in July 2020 despite major opposition from many of the state’s sheriffs.
It has only been used 55 times since its introduction and never in Sandoval county where Fannell was killed.
Legal expert John Day told Koat that there was ‘plenty of information’ that would have triggered the implementation of the red flag law in the Fannell case.
Former state representative Daymon Ely who sponsored the law told the outlet there were only two reasons why Sandoval police did not trigger the order.
‘Either they haven’t be properly educated about the use because this clearly fit within it or they have decided as some jurisdiction threatened to do not to use it.
‘If it is the latter then that cost someone their life.’
He added Fannell’s family could have a case to sue the force for failing to utilize the law and keep her safe.
Rio Rancho police said they were in the process of arranging alternative housing for Fannell, who they did not believe feared for her life.
Chief Steward Steele said: ‘When Officers left the scene, it did not appear Juneanne was in fear for her safety and there was no probable cause to believe any criminal activity had occurred.
‘Officers did not witness any signs of distress and comments made relating to the use of a firearm appeared to be insincere and made in jest.
‘Officers had no reasonable belief to suspect that either individual was sincerely contemplating an imminent act of violence because the behavior of the individuals observed on scene indicated they cared for one another.’
Based on this, there was no cause to trigger a red flag order, he said.