Horror in New Mexico

 Nehemiah Griego has been charged in connection with the shooting deaths of his family.

The face of the teenage killer (courtesy of CNN)

As much as I would love to write nothing but positive posts about the world we live in, there is simply too much negativity to ignore. And we all know how the media tends to flock to more shocking and disturbing stories.

Here’s another one for you.

Last weekend, 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego of New Mexico went on a killing rampage that added more fuel to the national conversations about gun control, violence and our troubled youth.

Let me preface this story by saying that for all intents and purposes, Nehemiah seemed like a normal, well-adjusted kid. He was active in his church youth group, attended mission trips with his father (a former pastor), enjoyed playing music and was a gifted athlete.

In other words, no one saw this coming.

Early last Saturday morning, and for no apparent reason (at least not yet), Nehemiah took a .22 rifle into his mother‘s bedroom, where she was sleeping with his 9-year-old brother Zephania, and fatally shot her. Zephania woke up at the sound of gunfire and Nehemiah told him their mother was dead, going so far as to pick up her head to show him her bloodied face.

Obviously, Zephania got upset at the sight of his dead mother, so Nehemiah shot him in the head and killed him, too. He later told police that this was the point-of-no-return because he “lost his sense of conscience.”

Nehemiah’s rampage continued and his next victims were his sisters, 2-year-old Angelina and 5-year-old Jael. Later, when his father returned from volunteering at a local homeless shelter, Nehemiah shot and killed him as well.

Fortunately, Nehemiah’s five older siblings no longer lived in his home or they would likely be dead, too.

After murdering most of his family, a few of them with an AR-15 assault rifle (like the one used by Adam Lanza in Connecticut), Nehemiah sent his girlfriend a picture of his mother’s lifeless body and then spent the remainder of his afternoon with her.

At one point, they visited his family’s church and it was a staff member there who eventually called the authorities. Griego was arrested and was scheduled to appear in court next week on charges of murder and child abuse resulting in death, but his preliminary hearing has been waived. Instead, Nehemiah will face a grand jury within the next few weeks.

Although the events of this case are disturbing enough, the plot thickened once police started to question Nehemiah. He told them he had been planning the killings for at least a week and even hoped to continue his shooting spree at a local Wal-Mart. His goal was to cause “mass destruction” and to die at the hands of the police after initiating a shootout.

The Griego home in Albuquerque, NM (courtesy of USA Today)

And we still have no idea why. Not completely, at least.

During his interrogation, Nehemiah was “stern” and “very unemotional.” He told police that he was frustrated with his mother and even thought about killing his girlfriend’s parents. Nehemiah also expressed an interest in playing violent video games and seemed excited to talk about them with investigators.

I’m sure someone will find a way to blame video games for Nehemiah’s violent behavior, even though I’m not aware of any research that truly connects the two.

So there you have it: another “normal” teenager who suddenly snaps and murders his family without feeling remorse, worrying about consequences or exercising any conscience whatsoever. I’m hoping that more details will come out to help us all understand how something like this could happen, but I’m certainly not holding my breath.

After all, there seem to be fewer and fewer things that make sense these days. And true understanding is more elusive than it has ever been.

Posted on January 24, 2013, in Family, Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I just don’t even know what to say/think…

  2. It’s more then just video games, a quick look at society in general and you get a picture of how we devalue human life, whether for example it’s tv shows like Dexter, the CSI’s, Criminal Minds, and many others that kids are exposed to that desensitizes them to death and dying, Then add in violent video games, music that glorifies violence, movies that use over the top levels of violence for the “greater good” and it’s no surprise that kids these days are looking lay waste to their schools and other places where they can go out in a blaze of glory apparently fighting some unknown (to us) perceived evil. The shows, games, music and movies are great entertainment for adults that can understand that it’s all fiction but kids see this kind of stuff as realistic possibilities and act out in a way that they perceive as appropriate, with tragic consequences… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against any of the above when it comes to adult entertainment, but I am very much against kids getting access to it. Bushido and Chivalry aren’t dead concepts, in fact they’re alive and well in the minds of youths that lack the maturity and guidance to control their emotions and urges.

    • I agree there could be some nasty effects from all the violence our youth are exposed to, but you certainly can’t single out video games. In many ways, local newscasts can be worse. And while younger kids may not understand the difference between reality and fiction, I believe that older kids have the capacity to do so. At least those who aren’t troubled or suffering from psychological issues.

      Great comments, my friend!

  3. It’s while dealing with life especially when it comes to trying to fit into the adult world to which they have little experience that things begin to spin out of control causing them to act out it ways that to them seem to be the correct action to take. “lost his sense of conscience.” was what he told police. Of course he did, because the effect of the first act wasn’t fully realized until it was actually committed then it was to late. He couldn’t cope with seriousness of the act he committed so he went into emotional shut-down of sorts where he kept repeating a wrong act probably hoping on some level that it would make some sense to him. Sorry this ended up as two replies… an inadvertent click of the mouse…. oops!

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