The Velasquez family shot to death on Christmas Day in a murder-suicide at their home, 3400 Martin Meadows. Photo Gary Herron/Observer

An apparent murder-suicide wiped out a Rio Rancho family on Christmas Day, when four family members were found dead in a home at 3400 Martin Meadows Drive in Northern Meadows subdivision.

Rio Rancho Police Department Capt. Andrew Rodriguez said officers “found four people inside the residence deceased as a result of what we believe to be gunshot wounds.”

Rodriguez said authorities received a call, and RRPD officers responded to the home at 4:14 p.m. on Wednesday. Those officers found the deceased victims, and RRPD investigated the incident as murder-suicide.

The victims located in the home were identified as: Carlos Velasquez, 50; Marilyn Velasquez, 45; Roberto Velasquez, 22; and Adrian Velasquez, 14.

Roberto had just graduated from the University of New Mexico in May and was studying electrical engineering at Stanford University, hoping to work for NASA someday. He was in town during winter break for the holidays. Adrian was a freshman at Cleveland High School.

Family members describe Marilyn as a “beautiful person” and hard worker who loved Puerto Rican music and watching the Dallas Cowboys play.

According to court records, Carlos Velasquez suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the couple was in the midst of getting a divorce. Police noted in an affidavit that a bed was made up on the couch “as if someone was sleeping there for the night.”

When officers arrived, they discovered Marilyn Velasquez dead with her back against the wall. She was at the foot of her teenage son’s bed. Carlos Velasquez was found face down, draped across his wife’s legs. A black handgun was found under Carlos Velasquez’s body, and shell casings littered the floor.

“This is a tragic event for the family and for the people in our communities,” Rodriguez said. “Our officers and detectives understand the impact this incident has on our entire city. We are working to provide accurate information to everyone about this incident as we know it has touched many people in Rio Rancho and the larger metropolitan area. It is the priority of the Rio Rancho Police Department to conduct a thorough investigation and to continue to provide for the safety of our residents.

The deaths occurred in a middle class neighborhood in the northwest corner of the city where many of the single-story homes, including the home at 34oo Martin Meadows Drive, were decked out in holiday lights.

Wednesday night, those holiday lights were drowned out by the emergency lights from RRPD vehicles.

At least a block around Martin Meadows was roped off with crime-scene tape as officers secured the scene and spent most of Thursday morning wrapping up their investigation.

Rodriguez said responding to a tragedy like this “is unfortunate no matter what day, but it’s even worse when it’s a holiday like this when our officers just want to spend time with their families like anyone else.”

By 6 p.m. Thursday, a GoFundMe set up for the “funeral expenses of 3 family members” had raised nearly $8,000 beneath a picture of Marilyn Velasquez and her two sons.

“We recently lost an amazing family over Christmas,” the GoFundMe page said. “It was unexpected and is leaving the family utterly destroyed as they’re having to pick up the pieces and try to understand this tragedy.”