Officials claimed the New Mexico youngster who killed three senior people in a “purely random” attack was due to graduate from high school Tuesday, little over 24 hours after the tragic incident.
Beau Wilson, 18, was murdered by Farmington police when they encountered him just after 11 a.m. Monday, according to Deputy Police Chief Kyle Dowdy.
Wilson attended Farmington High School, which celebrated its 12th-grade graduation ceremonies Tuesday evening, according to authorities.
“I can confirm he would’ve graduated last night,” Farmington Municipal Schools spokesperson Roberto Taboada said in a statement Wednesday.
Police identified the three slain women as Shirley Voita, 79, Melody Ivie, 73, and Gwendolyn Schofield, 97. Schofield was Ivie’s mother.
“Shirley, Melody and Gwendolyn were valued members of our community and their untimely deaths have left a void that will never be filled,” Deputy Police Chief Baric Crum said.
All of the victims appeared to be well-known and -liked in the tight-knit community in the Four Corners region of New Mexico.
“I knew Shirley Voita; just a saint,” former state Rep. James Strickler said Tuesday. “We go to the same Catholic church. She went to Mass that morning with my wife, and she was caught up in this. “
Ivie was a well-respected preschool teacher, Strickler said.
“So it’s a very small town. Everybody knows everybody,” he said.
Dowdy said a doorbell camera captured what police believe were Wilson’s first shots, fired at 10:56 a.m., a minute before Farmington police officers were dispatched to the neighborhood near Ute Street and Dustin Avenue.
The officers arrived at 11:02 a.m. to find Wilson opening fire; he was brought down at 11:06 a.m., police said.
“The suspect was shot, and almost simultaneously as well, an officer was shot,” Dowdy said.
According to authorities, the shooter appeared to fire at random, since at least six residences and three automobiles were struck by gunfire in the quarter-mile-long crime scene.
Dowdy claimed the shooter and cops shot more than 150 bullets.
“I can’t say who fired what yet, because I’m not sure,” he said. “So on the scene so far, and we’re still counting [because] that’s legitimately going to go up, at this point we found approximately 150 [rounds] exchanged.”
Police said they have not immediately been able to make any connection between Wilson and his victims, who were in cars when they were fatally wounded.
“It appears to be purely random and had no specific targets or motives that we can identify at this time,” Dowdy said.
Two members of law enforcement — Farmington Police Sgt. Rachel Discenza and New Mexico State Police Officer Andreas Stamatiadas — were injured but have been released from the hospital, Mayor Nate Duckett said.
Discenza has worked for the Farmington Police Department for ten years. Stamatiadas, a four-year veteran, was injured while driving to the site, according to authorities.
Sheriff Shane Ferrari of San Juan County said his department has been entrusted with reviewing the response of the police officer who fired 16 bullets.
The adolescent utilized at least three firearms, including an AR-style rifle, according to Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe.
Despite Monday’s tragedy, school authorities stated they thought continuing with the high school’s commencement was in the best interests of the community.
“Farmington High School’s graduation last night was the best way to honor our students for their accomplishments, dedication, and unwavering commitment to our community,” Taboada said.