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Nehemiah Griego Update: New Mexico teen accused of killing his family had suicidal thoughts, report says

Nehemiah Griego Bernalillo County via KRQE

Nehemiah Griego
Bernalillo County via KRQE

(CBS/AP) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Authorities said Nehemiah Griego told them he was annoyed with his mother and had homicidal and suicidal thoughts prior to fatally shooting his parents and three younger siblings, according to a probable cause statement.

Nehemiah Griego, 15, was arrested Saturday in the shooting deaths of his family at a rural home southwest of Albuquerque. He remained in custody on charges of murder and child abuse resulting in death.

During questioning Saturday night, the teen allegedly told a sheriff's detective that he took a .22 caliber rifle from his parents' closet and shot his mother in the head while his younger brother slept next to her.

Nehemiah told the detective that his brother did not believe that their mother was dead so he showed his mother's bloody face to his brother and then shot him, according to the statement.

He's accused of then shooting his two young sisters in their room. He retrieved an AR-15 rifle from his parents' closet and waited in a downstairs bathroom for his father to come home. The statement said he shot his father multiple times after he passed the bathroom doorway.

The teen said he reloaded the guns so "he could drive to a populated area to murder more people," according to the statement. His plan, the statement said, was to "shoot people at random and eventually be killed while exchanging gunfire with law enforcement."

A small bouquet of flowers was on top of a metal gate at the home's entrance Monday morning. Religious signs sat at each side of the gate, including one that read: "Jesus is the reason for the season."

The sheriff's office identified the victims as 51-year-old Greg Griego, his wife 40-year-old Sarah Griego, and three of their children: 9-year-old son Zephania Griego, and daughters 5-year-old Jael Griego and 2-year-old Angelina Griego. All appeared to have gunshot wounds to the head.

Greg Griego was a pastor who had once served at Calvary, one of Albuquerque's largest Christian churches. He was also well-known throughout the law enforcement community for his work as a voluntary chaplain.

Neighbor Terry Wootan described Griego as a man with a big heart. Wootan said Griego told him about his time in California when he was involved in gangs and how he turned his life around and found God.

"What he wanted to do was help people, and he would never quit," Wootan said.

The pastor's death has shocked the community, including the Albuquerque Fire Department and the Metropolitan Detention Center, where he volunteered his spiritual guidance.

A records check by the Children, Youth and Families Department indicated no trouble with the family and that Nehemiah Griego had never been in trouble with the law.

"This youth had no history with the juvenile justice system," agency spokesman Bob Tafoya said Monday.

Williamson confirmed there was no history of any emergency calls to the home in the recent past.

According to the probable cause statement, Nehemiah Griego first told a staff member at Calvary that his family was dead and that he placed the two rifles in the family van as protection before driving to the church. He later changed his story, according to the detective's statement.

Asked if he had told anyone else about murdering his family, Griego allegedly told the detective that he had taken a picture of his dead mother and sent it to his girlfriend.

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  • Crimesider Staff

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