Harrison: In aftermath of fatal shooting, both UNM, New Mexico State must step up - Albuquerque Journal

Harrison: In aftermath of fatal shooting, both UNM, New Mexico State must step up

A sign on one of the entrances to the Pit informs fans that last Saturday’s New Mexico State-New Mexico men’s basketball game would not be played. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

A subculture that is undisciplined at best, violent at its worst, has won out over New Mexico State-New Mexico basketball.

So we can’t have nice things anymore.

Think where we were heading into last weekend. A 3-0 UNM men’s basketball team off to a promising start was gearing up to face a New Mexico State squad with a new coach, almost all new faces, and enough buzz to elicit great curiosity. Fifteen thousand people, certainly, were coming to the Pit. UNM Athletics, Lobo fans and this city desperately needed something like this to rally around.

We had this coming.

Instead, no game at all. No makeup of the missed date. Now, no return date on Dec. 3 in Las Cruces. Nothing until further notice.

Maybe we had that coming, too.

Blame it all to start on the all-too-common daily scourge of American firearms violence. The Journal should have been writing late Saturday about how the Lobos outshot the Aggies, or vice versa, in a thrilling, hotly contested contest. Instead we wrote that an NMSU basketball player, Mike Peake, likely outshot a hostile UNM student in a gunfight that meant life or death on the UNM campus.

The motivation, investigators believe, is that Peake, and others, had fought the deceased Brandon Travis, and others, openly on the concourse of Aggie Memorial Stadium during last month’s UNM-NMSU football game in Las Cruces. Travis wanted revenge, knew that Peake would be in town to play basketball last weekend and came up with a plot to lure him to campus – enlisting fellow UNM students as accomplices – where the fateful events occurred during a dark overnight.

A UNM spokesperson said the last time a homicide happened on campus was at least 30 years ago. The Journal reported Wednesday that very few guns have been found on its campus in recent years. NMSU said Wednesday that four on-campus weapons arrests have been made in its previous three years.

There is apparently no information on the un-found guns.

Meanwhile, let’s not kid ourselves. Students aren’t isolated, and thus aren’t insulated, from this type of violence anyway. And this is a dangerous city.

It is scary enough that Brooke Berry, of Billings, Montana, a promising freshman Lobo basketball player, is leaving town over concerns of violence.

She might not even have known about the following recent events, because they certainly wouldn’t make it into UNM recruiting brochures – the shooting death in 2019 in Nob Hill of Jackson Weller, then affiliated with UNM baseball. Lobo baseball soon after also lost a promising player who left because he got held up for his truck at gunpoint. Then there was a Lobo softball player who got shot at a party – arranged by an injured Lobo men’s basketball player while his team was playing at Nevada, of all things.

Maybe Peake carries a gun with him frequently. Maybe he should have faced discipline as a result of his actions at the football game that would have precluded his presence in Albuquerque last weekend. Somehow it didn’t.

Somehow he – and other teammates whose subsequent actions are unknown – easily escaped curfew from their hotel last Friday night, even though NMSU said it had curfew watchers working late in the lobby. This might not be “lack of institutional control” – especially as the NCAA defines it – but certainly it screams “institutional ineffectiveness.”

NMSU officials finally faced direct questioning from media via Zoom on Wednesday. They were strong on defense, short on definitive or satisfying answers. They confirmed that the entire Aggie team, minus Peake, is making the trip to a weekend tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Officials at UNM and NMSU at least have said the right things about firearms prohibitions and sanctions. But UNM President Garnett Stokes, NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and their regents obviously need to step up their leadership game in helping us turn down the heat, tone down the rhetoric, and reduce the violence and fear of such.

Or, if that is an overstatement, we’d be playing Lobo-Aggie men’s basketball this season. Rightfully, we will not.

“Do we need to do better?” New Mexico State athletic director Mario Moccia said Wednesday. “When do we not?”

Meanwhile, life goes on. The games do, anyway. While the Aggies are in Vegas, New Mexico ambitiously is hosting a four-team, six-game tourney over this holiday weekend.

To our guests from Jacksonville (Ala.) State, North Dakota State and Northern Colorado, welcome.

Advice: If you have a curfew, take it seriously. Nothing good happens in Albuquerque after midnight.

And as one bitterly sad consequence, nothing good happened last Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Pit, when and where it surely should have.

Home » From the newspaper » Harrison: In aftermath of fatal shooting, both UNM, New Mexico State must step up

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