- Also on that day, much closer to home, Rio Rancho police arrested a student found with a gun at Cleveland High School. Rio Rancho police Lt. Jacquelynn Reedy had previously said the student was booked into the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center but on Thursday declined to comment on the case. “Due to the case being referred to (Juvenile Probation-Parole Office), under children’s code, I am unable to provide you with any further information,” she said in an email.
By that time, the teen had tried multiple times to evade the officer and get into the SUV where his backpack with the gun was inside. A JPPO official called back several minutes later and told the officer the teen was a Level 3 “low risk” and “was not to be arrested.”
After being told he wasn’t going to jail, the student thanked the officer for not letting him get into the SUV, telling him “it would have been bad.”
The teen was suspended from the school and released to a guardian after being detained for less than 20 minutes, according to an Albuquerque Police Department incident report. The gun, believed to be a “ghost gun” without serial numbers, was tagged into evidence.
The incident happened May 24, the same day a gunman walked into an elementary school in West Texas and fatally shot 19 students and two teachers before being killed by authorities.
Also on that day, much closer to home, Rio Rancho police arrested a student found with a gun at Cleveland High School. Rio Rancho police Lt. Jacquelynn Reedy had previously said the student was booked into the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center but on Thursday declined to comment on the case.
“Due to the case being referred to (Juvenile Probation-Parole Office), under children’s code, I am unable to provide you with any further information,” she said in an email.
At the time of the Volcano Vista incident, Principal Melissa Sedillo said the student “now faces criminal charges.”
Authorities said JPPO decided against an arrest and Charlie Moore-Pabst, a Children, Youth and Families Department spokesperson, would not say if the teen is facing charges.
Moore-Pabst said, in cases like this, the agency uses a Risk Assessment Inventory to decide whether to arrest a youth. He said the tool considers “a wide variety of circumstances” like the level of offense, arrest history and aggravating factors.
“It balances those against any mitigating factors, such as the youth’s alleged level of involvement in the incident,” Moore-Pabst said. He said even if the tool’s objective score indicates that a youth should not be arrested initially, “it does not preclude further investigation or a formal charge if the circumstances and evidence warrant it.”
According to an Albuquerque Public Schools police report, there have been almost a dozen gun threats among students between March and mid-May.
Lauren Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said carrying a gun on school grounds is a fourth-degree felony. APD spokeswoman Rebecca Atkins said in most cases the department follows the recommendations of JPPO.
“We can arrest and charge a juvenile, however, in accordance with state statute we have to work with the Juvenile Probation Office before a child can be remanded to a facility,” she said.
In the Volcano Vista incident, APD followed the JPPO’s guidance.
Sometime before 11 a.m. an employee of the high school told APS police a student said that another student had brought a gun to school, according to an incident report. Officers with APS and APD, Principal Sedillo and others combed the parking lot and found three teens hiding in an SUV.
Police said they got the students, two girls and a boy, out of the SUV as school personnel began searching their bags. The officer said the boy left his backpack in the SUV, where he had it between his legs.
The report states a school employee saw a gun sticking out of the bag and mentioned it to officers. The boy then walked toward the SUV, where his backpack was, and the APD officer stopped him.
Police said the boy tried to evade the officer and get into the SUV a few more times before giving in. A school employee grabbed the bag and took the gun out of it, finding it had a 25-round magazine with 20 hollow point bullets loaded into it.
The report states the APD officer called the juvenile district attorney and was referred to a senior JPPO representative, telling her “what had occurred to that point.” The representative called back and said the teen was a “3, low risk” and “he was not to be arrested.”
Police said the teen grew “more and more irate” and was slamming his head against the police vehicle plastic divider.
“After the decision had been made, I informed (the teen) that he was not going to be transported to jail and he calmed completely after that,” the officer wrote.
The teen was released to a guardian and evidence personnel told the officer the gun was possibly a ghost gun with no serial numbers.
“It should be noted that — he thanked me for stopping him from getting into the vehicle. He said that ‘it would have been bad,’” the officer wrote. “I did not ask for clarification as I had not Mirandized him prior. This comment was made sometime after the decision had already been made to release him.”