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UPDATED: Griego Family Releases Statement About Slayings

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Nehemiah Griego at a wedding

7:34 p.m. – The Griego family released the following statement regarding the deaths of five of their relatives, including three children:

“Our family is heartbroken over this senseless tragedy. 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.

It is clear to those of us who know and love him that something went terribly wrong. Whether it was a mental breakdown or some deeper undiagnosed psychological issue, we can’t be sure yet. What we do know is that none of us, even in our wildest nightmare, could have imagined that he could do something like this.

There is so much more to the Nehemiah we know than what the media is portraying. We know him as a bright, curious, and incredibly talented young man. He was a brother, nephew, grandson, and cousin.

From the time he was a young boy, his father Greg supported his love for music. Thanks to his interest, practice and natural ability, Nehemiah has become a very accomplished musician. He plays guitar, drums and bass. For years he has played at youth and other church services at Calvary and elsewhere.

The idea that he was a loner also has been manufactured by the media and those who simply did not know him. He had many friends at Calvary where he spent most of his free time playing basketball or music . Like his father, who was a champion wrestler and coach, Nehemiah also competed in wrestling tournaments throughout the state and country.

His parents were always involved at Calvary, and Nehemiah shared their commitment to community service. He accompanied his father on missions to Mexico, where they helped local faith communities. He helped with Calvary’s youth ministry and played his guitar or drums whenever someone needed him, including his aunt’s wedding. At home, he helped care for his younger siblings and the many animals the family kept.

Like his great grandfather, grandfather, father, and several aunts, uncles and cousins who are either veterans or on active duty, he wanted to serve his country. Because of this long family tradition of military service, he wanted to enlist when he was old enough. He dreamed of attending NMMI and talked of studying engineering or history. The pictures of him being circulated in his dad’s old fatigues were part of his interest in someday being a soldier.

To be clear, our family has differing views on gun rights and gun control. What we do agree on is that those who wish to score political points should not use a confused, misguided, 15-year old boy to make their case.

We ask those in the media and those who would use the media to make their political case, to not use Nehemiah 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.

Five lives have been senselessly and needlessly ended. Ruining one more without trying to get to the bottom of what really happened and more importantly –why – -would be equally tragic.”


4:00: A prayer vigil will be held for the Griego family Wednesday night at Calvary Albuquerque sanctuary at 7 p.m.

Pastor Skip Heitzig released a message saying that Greg Griego did a “terrific job”  as a jail chaplain to rehabilitate convicts and help them re-enter society.

“He impacted many lives in this community and he will be dearly missed,” Heitzig wrote in the message.

The church is located at 4001 Osuna Road NE.

The Griego Family Memorial Fund has been set up at New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union, according to the church website.

3:40: District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said the DA’s Office said Nehemiah Griego faces a possible 30-year maximum for each charge of child abuse resulting in death.

Brandenburg also said her office is reviewing what, if any, charges might apply to Griego’s girlfriend.

1:20 p.m. — Nehemiah Griego will continue to be held without bond under an agreement between prosecutors and the Public Defender’s Office.

Griego had waived his initial court appearance, which Judge Yvette Gonzales agreed to. Gonzales had planned to call the case anyway, for a review of the statement of probable cause that lays out the charges against Griego and to set bond.

The judge agreed to a stipulated order between the DA’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office under which there would be no public hearing at all — probably until after prosecutors present the case to a grand jury, which they have eight more days to do. Under the stipulated order, Griego will be held without bond.


Watch video from this morning’s press conference held by Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston.

 

12:50 p.m. – Nehemiah Griego, the 15-year-old accused of killing five family members in their South Valley home over the weekend, has waived his scheduled initial court appearance, officials said.

Griego was scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m.

A Metro Court spokeswoman says the judge assigned to the case will probably still call it to review the statement of probable cause and set bond.


Memorial outside the shooting scene in the South Valley. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Journal)

10:43 a.m. – Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston and one of his top investigators said during a news conference this morning that 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego had been planning violence for “at least a week.”

Houston said authorities have no best judgment on a motive.

“This is beyond any human reasoning or understanding at this time,” he said.

“It’s horrific, what other word do you use? It’s the first time I’ve been to a crime scene with this much destruction.”

Nehemiah Griego

Investigators are still trying to determine who, if anyone, he told about his plans. Among those detectives are considering as someone who may have known is Griego’s 12-year-old girlfriend.

Shortly after he allegedly shot his mother while she slept — around 1 a.m. Saturday — Griego texted a picture of his mother’s body to his girlfriend, Houston told reporters.

Preliminary reports indicate that he shot his mother once in the head, then shot his 9-year-old brother multiple times, including in the head, with a .22 caliber rifle, Houston and investigators said.

He then allegedly shot his two sisters, aged 5 and 2, in another room with the .22 caliber rifle, Houston said. One of the girls was awake, he said, the other was sleeping. One was shot multiple times, the other once.

Griego then waited about five hours in a downstairs bathroom for his father, well-known local pastor Greg Griego, to come home from a graveyard shift at an Albuquerque rescue mission. Sheriff’s Lt. Sid Covington said Nehimiah shot his father multiple times with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, including at least once in the head.

Other new details that came out during the news conference:

Covington said Nehemiah was fond of playing video games, including Modern Warfare and Grand Theft Auto.

Houston said that although he has numerous arrests in his past, it does not appear Greg Griego was a convicted felon.

Covington said it appears some of the guns owned by Greg Griego — including possibly those used in the killings — had been purchased by Greg Griego’s friends and then either sold or given to the pastor. BCSO is working with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace the history of those guns, as well as the two pistol-grip 12-gauge shotguns that were found in the Griegos’ home on the 2800 block of Long Lane SW.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston and one of his top investigators said during a Tuesday morning news conference this morning that 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego had been planning violence for “at least a week.”

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