Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler, named as special prosecutor in connection with the Berrendo Middle School shooting in Roswell, on Tuesday confirmed that he will be leaving the DA’s Office on March 1 to start a private law practice focusing on civil litigation, but that “the special prosecutor designation will remain with me until the case is resolved.”
Chandler said he told 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta Hicks about the upcoming change in his legal career when she appointed him special prosecutor on Jan. 17. Hicks “conflicted out” her office’s role in prosecuting the case against 12-year-old suspect Mason Campbell because she and people in her office have ties to the suspect’s and victims’ families, as well as to students and staff at Berrendo Middle School.
Chandler said any practicing attorney can serve in the role of special prosecutor, and it need not be a prosecutor from a district attorney’s office.
Also on Tuesday, Chandler was in Roswell, where he said he was briefed by State Police investigators, interviewed staff at Berrendo Middle School and met with the family of school shooting victim Kendal Sanders, 13, who had been released from University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, on Sunday following two surgeries to repair shoulder damage.
The other victim, Nathaniel Tavarez, 12, remained in the Lubbock hospital. At last report he was in critical but stable condition and had been taken off a ventilator and was breathing on his own, according to a family member.
Chandler said he was also picking up all the pleadings thus far filed in connection with the shooting incident and would be reviewing them this week so he could decide “how to proceed.”
A judge in Chaves County on Tuesday formalized an order that Campbell’s psychiatric evaluation be completed within 60 days, he said. Campbell is in a psychiatric facility in Albuquerque.
Campbell, a seventh grader, walked into his school’s gymnasium early Jan. 14 and opened fire with a 20-gauge shot gun, reportedly with a sawed off stock. No motive has yet been determined for the shooting.