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Jury trial set for shooting incident in Cortez

Cortez Police officers investigate a shooting at a home next to Kemper Elementary on Sept. 15, 2021. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Victim shot in the leg during altercation; standoff ensued, and school was evacuated

A jury trial will start Monday for a Cortez man who faces criminal charges for allegedly shooting a woman Sept. 15, 2021, at a home on Montezuma Avenue in Cortez.

Gerardo Federico has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful weapon possession by a previous offender and violation of protection order agreements.

Gerardo Federico
Tanya Ahasteen

The shooting incident occurred at a residence next door to Kemper Elementary School and triggered a five-hour standoff.

According to Cortez Police reports, officers responded to 546 E. Montezuma Ave. after reports of an altercation and shooting.

A female identified as Tanya Ahasteen was shot in the leg. Federico was identified as the suspect in the shooting, according to an arrest affidavit. A 9mm handgun was recovered by police.

Sep 17, 2021
Suspect in shooting near Kemper Elementary identified; arrest warrant issued

Ahasteen left the scene in a car driven by another female to go to Southwest Memorial Hospital. The car was pulled over by Cortez police officers. Medics were called to the scene, and she was transported to the hospital.

The incident triggered a five-hour standoff at the residence because police believed Federico was still in the home, but they later learned that he had left the scene. The incident triggered the evacuation of nearby Kemper Elementary.

An arrest warrant was issued for Federico, and he was apprehended Oct. 5 at a residence in Lukachukai, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation.

In an unrelated case, Ahasteen and her sister have been jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder of Alvin “AJ” Cayateinto March 9 at his residence south of Cortez. The sisters are being held in Montezuma County Detention Center, and the case is pending.

In the Federico case, Ahasteen was the victim of the shooting and a key witness for the prosecution.

Because her testimony in the Federico case could affect her unrelated homicide case, District Attorney Matt Margeson requested victim immunity for her testimony in Federico’s trial.

Judge Theresa Cisneros granted a “use immunity” order for Ahasteen in the trial.

The use immunity statute states that “no testimony or other information compelled under the order … may be used against the witness in any criminal case, except a prosecution for perjury or false statement or otherwise failing to comply with the order.”

Jury selection in the case will begin Monday for the trial, to be held at the Montezuma County Combined Courthouse.