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Beloved Northern New Mexico singer killed in Santa Fe shooting

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By Ryan Lowery

Award-winning singer and songwriter Ernestine Romero and her husband, Jessie Saucedo, were found dead in Santa Fe Thursday afternoon. Romero had just celebrated her birthday a day before.

Thursday afternoon, Santa Fe Police responded to reports of a shooting in downtown Santa Fe where they found the bodies of a deceased woman and man inside a vehicle in a parking lot near the Jerry Apodaca Education Building.

SFPD Deputy Chief Ben Valdez told the Optic both the woman and the man had apparently died from gunshot wounds.

Police identified the woman as Romero and the man as Saucedo in a press release Thursday evening.

Valdez did not say if investigators suspected suicide in either of the deaths, but did say police were not seeking a suspect and didn’t believe the public was in danger.

“We don’t believe, based on the information that we have, that the suspect remains at large,” he said Thursday night.

However, in a Friday evening press release, police said the Office of the Medical Investigator had determined Saucedo had killed Romero before committing suicide.

Police said Saucedo shot Romero twice in the chest with a semi-automatic pistol as she sat in the passenger seat of an SUV. Saucedo died from a single gunshot to the head while in the driver seat.

Valdez said police did not know a possible motive at this time.

“It’s still too early to know. This investigation is very active,” Valdez said Thursday evening. “It’s going to take a little bit of time for us to find out motive, and what led up to this incident.”

In its Friday press release, SFPD said the shooting remains under investigation, and that detectives are “working to determine what led up to this tragic incident.”

A representative for Romero’s family told the Optic the family would not be making any official statements to the media at this time and asked for privacy.

Romero was a Pojoaque Valley native and lived in Santa Fe where she worked for a state agency. Police did not release details of her employment, but Romero is listed in a New Mexico Public Education Department staff directory — by her married name, Ernestine Saucedo — as an employee of the School Budget Office.

Romero has friends and family in Las Vegas, and recently, on the evening of July 7, Romero performed on the Plaza as part of the Fiestas de Las Vegas.

According to her official website, Romero has released 9 albums and has been awarded CD of the Year, Cumbia Song of the Year and Salsa Tropical Song of the Year by the New Mexico Hispano Music Association.

As news of Romero’s death began to spread across New Mexico, tributes poured in on her social media accounts, with many offering prayers and condolences to her family. Some described her as “genuine” and an “amazing person,” others stated that heaven gained a beautiful angel.

Romero was 32; Saucedo was 34.