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UNM baseball player killed outside Nob Hill club

Jackson Weller (Source: UNM)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

A University of New Mexico student and member of the baseball team was shot to death outside a Nob Hill club early Saturday as the gunplay that’s seemingly pervaded the Albuquerque area this year continues.

Jackson Weller, a 23-year-old junior from Keller, Texas, was identified by a UNM spokeswoman and police as the man killed outside Imbibe Nob Hill, a bar along Central Avenue.

Athletic organizations citywide were among those paying their respects to Weller as Mayor Tim Keller vowed to find those responsible and called UNM students a “vital part of the Albuquerque family.”

“I am saddened and angered by the news that a student’s life was taken last night,” he said. “I am getting updates regularly from APD as they work hard to solve this case and bring the killer to justice.

“Gun violence is not a problem with a quick or obvious solution, but we are determined to fight back in every way.”

The slaying comes days after several city councilors proposed more than $1 million in investments to boost public safety and carry out other initiatives along the Central Avenue corridor.

Albuquerque Police Department officers responded to the shooting around 2:15 a.m. and found Weller, who was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Officer Tanner Tixier, an APD spokesman, said no suspects in the case had been identified. Police have not said what led to the shooting or provided any further details.

“Our detectives are conducting a thorough investigation so we can provide justice to the family and friends of this young man,” Police Chief Mike Geier said in the statement released jointly with Keller.

Those inside the club at Central and Richmond described a single gunshot heard outside, prompting a flood of people to empty out through the front door to see what was going on. In the street, women screamed and others yelled for an ambulance while a crowd gathered around Weller as he lay on the ground.

The staff of Imbibe Nob Hill declined to comment on Saturday.

A wreath of flowers sent by Air Force Academy’s baseball team stands alongside a UNM baseball jersey with the name of Lobo pitcher Jackson Weller in New Mexico’s baseball clubhouse. (Ken Sickenger/Albuquerque Journal)

UNM spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair said Weller, who just turned 23 last month, came to the university to play baseball and was a part of the Lobos in the fall 2018, before suffering an injury. She said he planned on rejoining the team this fall.

The Lobos baseball team postponed its final two games of a three-game series against the visiting Air Force Falcons following the news of Weller’s death. The games had been scheduled for Saturday and today.

“The loss of Jackson Weller is devastating to the entire Lobo family,” UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said in a statement Saturday. “He was a very special young man whose absence will be deeply felt.”

Drake Taylor, who the Journal reached through social media, said he and Weller grew up together in Keller, Texas, where they played for the Redhawks baseball team as middle schoolers. He said they became best friends on the field and off.

“He wasn’t only my friend, but actually a brother of mine. I was a part of his family and loved him like a brother,” Taylor said. “Everyone that knew Jackson knows that just being in his presence made the room a happier place.”

Weller’s death is the 26th homicide in Albuquerque this year and the 15th that remains unsolved. Authorities say there were 114 people shot in 112 days in Bernalillo County including the city of Albuquerque through April 23 – a 36% increase over last year during the same time period.

On Thursday, City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Klarissa Peña and Ken Sanchez announced a plan to invest up to $1.5 million in Central corridor public safety and marketing measures, including adding up to 10 additional bicycle officers to patrol the corridor. Route 66 business owners and others had recently sent a letter to councilors, requesting more security measures, citing rampant vandalism and break-ins, while still recovering from the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project construction.

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