Suspected Clovis shooter dreaded return to school
CLOVIS — During church services last Sunday morning, recently baptized Nathaniel Jouett had to leave because he was having an anxiety attack, his pastor told the Journal Tuesday. And, he said, Jouett had told him he was suspended Friday from Clovis High School — where he is a sophomore — and was dreading when he would have to return to class.
On Monday, shortly after 4 p.m., police say 16-year-old Jouett walked into the ClovisCarver Public Library, where he began firing two pistols, killing two library employees and injuring four other people, including a 10-year-old boy.
“It doesn’t even register,” said Pastor David Stevens of the Clovis’ Living Word Church of God. “We had no idea that he had anything like
that in him.”
Jouett surrendered to officers at the scene, and is charged with two counts of murder and other crimes. Andrea Reeb, the district attorney prosecuting the case, said she plans to file court documents Wednesday and will ask for Jouett to be tried as an adult.
Stevens said although he knew Jouett had experienced suicidal thoughts in the past — even going as far as to carry around a suicide note — he had thought that in recent months the boy had been moving past that. He said he was being raised by his father and his stepmother.
Jouett, who grew up in Clovis, was described by his elementary school teacher as a quiet child who didn’t cause any trouble or have any problems with bullies.
Bobbie McCandless said she would continue to see Jouett around town in the years since she had taught him in fourth grade, but she didn’t know what he was up to recently.
However, last week, Stevens said, Jouett got into a fight with a couple of students at the high school and was suspended for two days.
“He was worried about going back to school because there were two or three guys who were going to jump him,” Stevens said. “He was walking down the hall when this guy hit him in the back of the head and then he hit back. (The suspension) was Friday and Monday, and, of course, Monday is when this all transpired.”
School officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Clovis Police Chief Douglas Ford said officers are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting. They don’t believe Jouett knew any of the victims or had any ties to the library.
Ford said circulation assistant Wanda Walters, 61, and Kristina Carter, 48, a youth services librarian, died at the scene. Another circulation assistant, Jessica Thron, 30, was seriously injured and required surgery.
Noah Molina, 10, was shot in the hand and his sister, 20-year-old Alexis Molina, was seriously injured, as was 53-year-old Howard Jones, Ford said. The injured are all being treated at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to go up, particularly for those two ladies who lost their lives in such a senseless tragedy,” said Mayor David Lansford.
Ford said Jouett used two handguns in the shooting, but they don’t know how many times he fired.
“We’re still reviewing exactly what happened,” Ford said. “We’re still reviewing the statements.”
‘Really scary feeling’
Lupe Aguirre had just watched his wife walk into the library Monday afternoon when a family came running out of the building, screaming that there had been a shooting.
He said he ran in to look for his wife and instead found the smoke clearing from gunfire, casings on the floor, and parents and children hiding under tables and behind locked doors.
Minutes later, Aguirre said, he found himself cornered by a teenage gunman and staring down the barrel of a gun.
“He was happy,” Aguirre said. “He was just laughing, smiling the whole time until he came up real close to me, and then he put on that mean look.”
Aguirre said he was on the line with 911 telling police to hurry and Jouett shouted at him to get on the floor. As he was kneeling down, Aguirre said he attempted to distract Jouett by telling him that someone was looking for him.
“He turned around and he saw a child and mother on the floor,” he said. “He told them to stay on the floor or he’s going to kill them and then he walked to where I was pointing and went that way.”
Aguirre said his wife had escaped out a side door.
In the hours following the shooting, he was interviewed by police, and has been praying and thanking God he and his wife were not harmed.
“It’s a really scary feeling,” Aguirre said. “Everything was going through my mind, from where is he going to shoot me to how is it going to feel. And then you start thinking about your kids, all at one time.”
Throughout the evening Monday and into Tuesday, residents of the small city of Clovis remained in shock over the news of the shooting.
Ford said his officers kept a closer watch on the area’s schools because of fears that there might be another incident.
Vigils and mourning
Vigils were held at two churches Tuesday night in memory of the victims.
And mourners stopped by the library to place flowers at the entrance and hang bows on a signpost across the street.
Down the street, at Eddie’s Subs and More, owner Eddie Martinez said he first heard about the shooting when a 72-year-old man who is a regular customer came to tell him he had been shot at three times, but was not hit.
He said today the whole town is in mourning and talking about the shooting.
“We’re saddened, shocked that it happened in a small community like this,” Martinez said. “We’re hurting also for the people involved, families, family of the shooter.”
At the Tuesday news conference, Lansford said everyone wants answers to why this could have happened.
“I think when it’s all said and done, I don’t think anyone will ever be able to put a reason on these kinds of things happening,” Lansford said.
Clovis Mayor David Lansford leads the assembly in prayer during a vigil Tuesday at the Central Baptist Church for the victims of the deadly shooting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library in Clovis.