Sus­pected Clovis shooter dreaded re­turn to school

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY ELISE KA­PLAN

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.

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

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.

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