Guns rarely found in dorms at UNM, NMSU - Albuquerque Journal

Guns rarely found in dorms at UNM, NMSU

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The shootout that left a University of New Mexico student dead, two students under arrest and a New Mexico State University basketball player injured has raised concerns about safety at UNM.

But despite the high-profile case, it’s rare for weapons of any kind to be found on campus and particularly in student housing at UNM, according to the school’s recent Annual Security and Fire Safety reports. And it’s been at least 30 years since a homicide was reported on campus, according to a university spokeswoman.

In the last four years there have been 10 cases of weapons found in student housing at UNM. There were none in 2021, four in 2020, four in 2019 and two in 2018. Of those cases, only two in 2019 led to an arrest, citation or summons. The other eight cases were referred for disciplinary action. The reports don’t specify types of weapons involved in each case.

 

Though such weapons have been rare, just after midnight on Tuesday morning, the UNM Police Department responded to a report of an assault with a firearm near the 300 block of Redondo NE – which is not far from the site of the weekend’s fatal shooting.

“The caller told officers they were walking outside Redondo Village Apartments when they observed two males parked in a black hatchback-style Jeep,” UNM said in a LoboAlert to the campus. “One of the subjects in the vehicle was described as pointing a handgun at them before driving off campus. No shots or injuries were reported.”

UNM has a strict policy against weapons on campus. The policy says a weapon includes, but isn’t limited to, firearms, ammunition or other dangerous weapons, substances, or materials, bombs, explosives, or incendiary devices. The only exemptions are small containers of pepper spray and stun guns below a maximum amperage of five milliamps, according to UNM policy.

In addition to the weapons found in student housing, there are also occasional cases when authorities find weapons on other parts of campus.

UNM President Garnett Stokes

“Both UNM policies and New Mexico state law clearly prohibit the carrying of guns and other weapons on our campuses,” UNM President Garnett Stokes said in a prepared statement. “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that anyone, aside from those with authorized exceptions, found to be carrying weapons on campus is subject to appropriate disciplinary and criminal action.”

The safety reports also show there haven’t been any suspected murder or manslaughter cases on UNM’s campus or in student housing from 2018 through 2021. No one has been charged with murder in connection with Saturday’s shooting.

There hasn’t been a homicide on UNM’s campus in at least 30 years, said Cinnamon Blair, a university spokeswoman.

“(Resident advisers) are trained on reporting a suspected weapon (or any other safety concern or policy violation) – housing staff will work with UNMPD to assess the information, and if the information is credible, then approach the individual or ask to search the room,” Blair said in a statement. “UNM (Police Department) cannot search without a warrant, but UNM Residence Life and Student Housing can, if they think it is necessary. However, working with the student resident is always the preferable means of resolving any concern.”

But gun violence in and around Albuquerque and the rest of the nation is having an effect on students. On Monday, Brooke Berry, a freshman on the UNM women’s basketball team, quit the team. The player from Billings, Montana, told coaches she was concerned with violence on and around campus.

In a shootout outside of Coronado Hall in the heart of UNM’s main campus early Saturday morning, UNM freshman Brandon Travis, 19, was shot and killed and NMSU student Mike Peake, 21, was injured. According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, another UNM student told police he knew Travis had a gun.

Monday evening, Stokes sent out a message to the campus community that directed students to available mental health and support services. She said that “disturbing” details about the shooting created a sense of anxiety on campus.

Travis and three other UNM students worked together to “lure” Peake to campus early Saturday to jump him in revenge for a fight earlier this year at the UNM-NMSU rivalry football game in Las Cruces, according to the complaint.

“As someone who not only works on campus but also lives here, I understand that a safe campus environment is crucial to our success as a university,” Stokes said in her message to students. “I remain committed to the safety and security of UNM, while acknowledging the challenges we face as an open campus in an urban environment.”

NMSU fire and security reports show there were five weapons violations on the school’s main campus in the last three years. Three of those cases were in student housing.

NMSU officials said having weapons on school property and at school-sanctioned events is prohibited.

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