A US teenager accused of gunning down five family members over the weekend ambushed his father as he returned home from an overnight shift at a rescue mission, then reloaded his rifles and planned to go to a Wal-Mart and randomly shoot people, authorities said on Tuesday.
Instead, 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego texted a picture of his dead mother to his 12-year-old girlfriend, then spent much of Saturday with the girl and her family, authorities said.
“The motive, as articulated by the suspect, was purely that he was frustrated with his mother,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said.
Houston said Griego had planned the shootings for at least a week, but it is unclear if he ever actually went to a Wal-Mart or why he changed his mind about continuing the attack.
The teen waived his right to arraignment in adult court on Tuesday on charges of murder and child abuse resulting in death, and a judge ordered him held without bond.
The sheriff’s office identified the victims as Greg Griego, 51, his wife, Sarah Griego, 40, and three of their children: a nine-year-old boy, Zephania Griego, and daughters Jael Griego, five, and Angelina Griego, two. All appeared to have gunshot wounds to the head.
According to Houston and charging documents, it all began early on Saturday at the family’s home, when Nehemiah Griego — angry and annoyed with his mother — acted on what he described to investigators as homicidal and suicidal thoughts.
Houston said the teen shot his mother while she slept at about 1am with a .22 caliber rifle the parents kept in a closet. He said he killed his siblings after they woke up and became upset, then grabbed a military-style assault rifle his parents owned and waited in the downstairs bathroom to ambush his father as he returned from work at a rescue mission about 5am.
Griego spent most of Saturday with his girlfriend and her family, Houston said. At about 8pm, Griego went to Calvary church and told church members that his family was dead. Church officials called police and took Griego to his home.
The teen had no history of mental illness, and drugs and alcohol did not appear to be a factor, Houston said.
Greg Griego was a gang member-turned pastor who had once served at Calvary, one of Albuquerque’s largest Christian churches. He had an extensive arrest record from his gang days, but was best known throughout the law enforcement community for his work as a voluntary chaplain.
Greg Griego taught his son how to use guns, and they shot together on a regular basis, Houston said.