Authorities: NM teen planned more shootings
Nehemiah Griego, 15, is seen in an undated photo provided by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deptartment. Griego is charged with killing five family members on Jan. 19, 2013, including his father, mother, and three youngest siblings in Albuquerque, N.M. Authorities in New Mexico say Griego had reloaded his guns after the attacks and planned to go to a Wal-Mart and randomly shoot people. Instead, they say he texted a picture of his dead mother to his 12-year-old girlfriend, then spent much of Saturday with her. The two went to the church where his father had been a pastor, and Griego eventually confessed to killing his parents and three younger siblings. (AP Photo/Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deptartment)
Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston, right, and Lt. Sid Covington answer questions about the shooting deaths of five family members during a news conference at the sheriff's headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. Authorities have charged Nehemiah Griego, 15, with murder and child abuse counts in connection with the slaying of his family. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston prepares for a news conference at the sheriff's headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, regarding the shooting deaths of five family members over the weekend. Authorities have charged Nehemiah Griego, 15, with murder and child abuse counts in connection with the slaying of his family. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
Bernalillo Sheriff Deputies investigate at the scene of the multiple homicide at South Valley in Albuquerque, N.M., on Sunday Jan. 20, 2013. A 15-year-old boy remained in custody Sunday night as detectives tried to piece together what led to the shooting of five people, including three young children, who were found dead in a New Mexico home. (AP Photo/The Albuquerque Journal, Adolphe Pierre-Louis)
A Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy blocks the dirt road that leads to a home where detectives on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, were investigating the deaths of five people who were shot to death south of Albuquerque, N.M. Authorities say a teenager has been arrested and booked on murder and other charges in connection with the shootings. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
The New Mexico teenager accused of gunning down five family members over the weekend ambushed his father as he returned home from an overnight shift at a rescue mission, then reloaded his rifles and planned to go to a Walmart and randomly shoot people, authorities said yesterday.
Instead, 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego texted a picture of his dead mother to his 12-year-old girlfriend, then spent much of Saturday with the girl and her family, authorities said. That evening, he went to the church where Griego’s father had been a pastor, and Griego eventually confessed to killing his parents and three younger siblings.
“The motive, as articulated by the suspect, was purely that he was frustrated with his mother,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said. “He did not give any further explanation.”
Houston said Griego had planned the shootings for at least a week, but it’s unclear whether he ever actually went to a Walmart or why he changed his mind about continuing the attack, which occurred the same day thousands of gun advocates gathered peacefully at state capitals across the country to rally against stricter limits on firearms. The “Guns Across America” events were being held just after President Obama unveiled a sweeping package of federal gun-control proposals.
Griego told detectives he also contemplated killing his girlfriend’s parents, Houston said.
The sheriff said he didn’t know if Griego’s contact with his girlfriend avoided further bloodshed. But he said she apparently knew what had happened, and officials are investigating whether she should be charged with failing to report the crime.
“We know Nehemiah had been contemplating this for some time,” Houston told reporters at a news conference yesterday. Griego apparently had told others of his plans, but whom and when was still under investigation, Houston said.
The teen waived his right to arraignment in adult court yesterday on charges of murder and child abuse resulting in death and a judge ordered him held without bond.
He was arrested Saturday at his family’s home in a rural area southwest of Albuquerque.
The sheriff’s office identified the victims as Greg Griego, 51, his wife, Sarah Griego, 40, and three of their children: a 9-year-old boy, Zephania Griego, and daughters Jael Griego, 5, and Angelina Griego, 2. All appeared to have gunshot wounds to the head.
According to Houston and charging documents, it all began early Saturday at the family’s home, when Nehemiah Griego – angry and annoyed with his mother – acted on what he described to investigators as homicidal and suicidal thoughts.
Houston said the teen shot his mother while she slept at about 1 a.m. with a .22 caliber rifle the parents kept in a closet. He said he killed his siblings after they woke up and became upset, then grabbed a military-style assault rifle his parents owned and waited in the downstairs bathroom to ambush his father as he returned from work at a rescue mission about 5 a.m.
Griego told authorities he then reloaded the two guns and put them in the family van.
Houston said he didn’t know if Griego actually went to a Walmart, but officers found the two rifles, as well as at least a dozen rounds for the .22 and a handful of rounds for the .223 caliber assault rifle in the van.
Griego spent most of Saturday with his girlfriend and her family, Houston said. At about 8 p.m., Griego went to Calvary church and told church members that his family was dead. Church officials called 911 and took Griego to his home.
Griego initially told arriving officers he had come home Saturday morning after spending time at a friend’s house to discover his family dead, court documents say. The teen later confessed to shooting his mother because he “had anger issues” and was annoyed with her, the documents say.
The teen had no history of mental illness and drugs and alcohol did not appear to play a factor, Houston said. He did note, however, that the teen liked violent video games, including “Modern Warfare” and “Grand Theft Auto.” He did not say whether he believed the games were a factor.
Greg Griego was a gang member-turned pastor who had once served at Calvary, one of Albuquerque’s largest Christian churches. He had an extensive arrest record from his gang days, but was best known throughout the law enforcement community for his work as a voluntary chaplain.
A records check by the Children, Youth and Families Department indicated no problems with the Griego family and that Nehemiah Griego had never been in trouble with the law.
Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Williamson confirmed there was no history of any emergency calls to the home in the recent past.
“This is beyond any human reasoning or understanding,” Houston said.
“It’s horrific. What other words do you use? This is certainly the first time that I have been into a crime scene with this much destruction at one home.”
In addition to the two rifles, there were two 12-gauge pistol-grip shotguns in the home, Houston said. Griego’s father taught him to use guns, and they shot together on a regular basis, Houston said.
The home had a security-style sign outside saying “Home Protected by Smith & Wesson.”