Menu

Crime & Courts

Sheriff: New Mexico teen accused of killing family reloaded rifles, planned Wal-Mart shootout

  • 1423e971c7316202270f6a706700e2ea.jpg

    This undated photo provided by Eric Griego shows Nehemiah Griego. Griego is charged with killing five family members, 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/Courtesy of Eric Griego)The Associated Press

  • bd972ce3abc15a02270f6a706700def6.jpg

    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)The Associated Press

  • 14f9ae6fabd65a02270f6a706700f1de.jpg

    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)The Associated Press

  • efaa3482accc5f02270f6a70670065b8.jpg

    Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg answers questions during a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, about the potential legal aspects in the case of a 15-year-old boy who is accused of gunning down his family. Nehemiah Griego remained in custody Tuesday on counts of murder and child abuse resulting in death. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)The Associated Press

  • 4bb87311abd65a02270f6a7067005658.jpg

    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)The Associated Press

The New Mexico teen accused of killing his parents and three siblings is portrayed in charging documents as a teen haunted by homicidal and suicidal thoughts that included fantasies of killing his girlfriend's parents and gunning down random people at a Wal-Mart.

To his family, he was a bright, curious and talented musician who played in the church choir. He also was a champion wrestler who dreamed of following his family's long tradition of military service, and a boy who accompanied his pastor father on rescue missions to Mexico.

In a statement issued Tuesday night on behalf of family, the boy's uncle Eric Griego described those traits, and called on the media and the public not to use 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego "as a pawn for ratings or to score political points."

"He is a troubled young man who made a terrible decision that will haunt him and his family forever," the statement said.

It gave no clue as to what might have prompted the alleged assault by the teen, who authorities say confessed to shooting his mother and three younger siblings in their beds early Saturday, then waiting in a bathroom with a military-style semi-automatic rifle to ambush his father upon his return from an overnight shift at a homeless shelter.

"Our family is heartbroken over this senseless tragedy," the statement said. "We have not been able to comprehend what led to this incredibly sad situation. However, we are deeply concerned about the portrayal in some media of Nehemiah as some kind of a monster."

The family noted they had no indication of the boy's troubles but said it's clear that something went terribly wrong.

"Whether it was a mental breakdown or some deeper undiagnosed psychological issue, we can't be sure yet," the statement said. "What we do know is that none of us, even in our wildest nightmare, could have imagined that he could do something like this."

After killing his parents, his younger brother and two sisters at the family's home in a rural area southwest of Albuquerque, Griego planned to randomly shoot people at a Wal-Mart, Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said Tuesday. The teen also contemplated killing the parents of his 12-year-old girlfriend, Houston said.

Griego loaded guns and ammunition into the family's van, but it was unclear if he ended up going to a Wal-Mart or how seriously he contemplated continuing his rampage, the sheriff said.

The attack happened Saturday, the same day thousands of gun advocates rallied around the country to oppose the gun-control measures proposed by President Obama following the December elementary school massacre in Connecticut.

What authorities know, Houston said, was that Griego texted a picture of his dead mother to his girlfriend, then spent much of Saturday with her and her family. That evening, Griego went to the church where his father once worked, and he confessed later that night to killing his parents and three siblings, authorities said.

"We know Nehemiah had been contemplating this for some time," Houston said. Griego apparently had told others of his plans, but whom and when were still under investigation.

The motive, Houston said, "was purely that he was frustrated with his mother."

"He did not give any further explanation," the sheriff said.

The teen waived his right to arraignment in adult criminal court Tuesday on charges of murder and child abuse resulting in death and was ordered held without bond. He was arrested Saturday at his family's home.

The sheriff's office identified the dead 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.

The teen had no history of mental illness or run-ins with the law, and drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor, Houston said. The sheriff noted the teen liked violent video games such as "Modern Warfare" and "Grand Theft Auto," but he did not say whether he believed the games were a factor.

Greg Griego was a gang member-turned pastor who had 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.

The church planned a prayer vigil Wednesday night.

"We are doing what we can as a church body to minister to the remaining family members," Calvary Pastor Skip Heitzig said in a statement. "Only the Lord Jesus Christ can heal this type of pain and heartache."

Bank Rates

Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
30 Y Fixed Graph 4.21% up 4.19%  
15 Y Fixed Graph 3.29% up 3.24%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.57% dw 4.58%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.68% dw 3.79%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 3.48% dw 3.49%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.47% dw 4.50%  
$50K HELOC Graph 4.17% dw 4.19%  
$30K Loan Graph 5.06% dw 5.10%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.46% dw 4.54%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.40% dw 4.50%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 2.90% -- 2.90%  
36 M Used Graph 3.41% dw 3.42%  
48 M New Graph 3.18% -- 3.18%  
48 M Used Graph 2.95% -- 2.95%  
60 M New Graph 3.21% -- 3.21%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
6 month Graph 0.35% -- 0.35%  
1 yr Graph 0.68% -- 0.68%  
5 yr Graph 1.37% -- 1.37%