(AP) — A horrific scene awaited officers responding to an emergency call at a New Mexico home – five family members dead, all with multiple gunshot wounds. The victims were later identified as parents and their three young children and the suspected attacker as their 15-year-old son.
Investigators trying to piece together what led to the violence late Saturday night found several guns believed used in the shootings, including one assault rifle, Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said Sunday. The owner of the weapons hasn’t been determined.
“There’s no other way to say it, except that we have a horrific crime scene down there that we are working on,” said Houston.
Nehemiah Griego, 15, was arrested on murder charges following the shootings at the residence in a rural area southwest of downtown Albuquerque, the sheriff’s department said.
Authorities identified the victims as Greg Griego, 51, his wife Sara Griego, 40, and three of their children: a 9-year-old boy, Zephania Griego, and daughters Jael Griego, 5, and Angelina Griego, 2.
“Right now we’re to the meticulous points of processing the scene and collecting physical evidence, and this is a vast scene with a lot of physical evidence,” Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Sid Covington said Sunday.
Word of the shootings traveled quickly through the law enforcement community, and officials began offering their condolences for Greg Griego, a spiritual leader known for his work with firefighters and the 13 years he spent as a volunteer chaplain at the county jail.
“Chaplain Griego was a dedicated professional that passionately served his fellow man and the firefighters of this community,” Fire Chief James Breen said in a statement. “His calming spirit and gentle nature will be greatly missed.”
Jail Chief Ramon Rustin said Griego was instrumental in the creation of the Metropolitan Detention Center’s chaplain program and worked to get inmates integrated back into the community.
Griego also was a former member of the pastoral staff at Calvary, a Christian church in Albuquerque. As part of his work there, he oversaw the Straight Street program for jail inmates.
On Sunday, a police roadblock cut off public access to the narrow dirt road that leads to the home, which is surrounded by trees and an agricultural field on one side.
Neighbors said they saw the first police cars and ambulances arrive at the home Saturday night. The road was blocked and word of the shootings began to make its way through the neighborhood.
Peter Gomez, a 54-year-old carpenter who lives about 200 yards from the home, said he had seen the family – a husband and wife and their four children – pass by many times but didn’t know them personally.
“It’s a horrible thing,” Gomez said. “You see all this stuff that happens all over the country, the shootings in the schools and theaters, and then it happens right here. It’s sad.”
Authorities declined to release details of any conversation that the 15-year-old had with investigators, but they said he was the Griegos’ son. The sheriff’s office said he is charged with two counts of murder and three counts of child abuse resulting in death.
The sheriff’s office said it wouldn’t release any further information about the case until Sheriff Dan Houston holds a news conference Tuesday morning.
Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.
This post has been updated.