Albuquerque School Shooting Leaves One Student Dead
- By Matt Jones
- August 16, 2021
A shooting at an Albuquerque, N.M., middle school on Friday, Aug. 13, left one student dead and the suspect in custody. Police say the incident at Washington Middle School took place at lunch as the victim tried to prevent another student from being bullied. The alleged gunman, 13-year-old Juan Saucedo, has been charged with one count each of open murder and unlawfully carrying a deadly weapon on school premises. Police have identified the victim as Bennie Hargrove, also 13.
Police Chief Harold Medina called Hargrove a hero in a brief statement on Friday night. “He stood up for a friend and tried to deescalate a violent confrontation between classmates,” said Medina. He called the incident “a tragedy that has shaken our community.”
According to a student witness, Hargrove approached the suspect at lunch on Friday and asked him to stop “bullying and punching” a smaller boy. The suspect hid the gun behind his leg beyond Hargrove’s view, and then he chambered a round and fired multiple shots at Hargrove, according to witness testimony from a probable-cause statement. A school resource officer heard gunshots, ran over, handcuffed the suspect to a fence, radioed for help, and stayed by Hargrove’s side until medical professionals arrived, according to the statement.
The suspect’s father, 41-year-old Juan Saucedo Sr., noticed around noon that day that his handgun was missing, according to local news. He called his wife and then drove to Washington Middle School, where he arrived in time to see officers putting his son in handcuffs. The elder Saucedo was banned from a local high school in 2018 after he shot and injured another parent during an altercation in the student pick-up lane, a local news outlet reported.
“Given the father’s history, our detectives are looking at every factor that may have contributed to Friday’s tragic shooting,” said Medina in another statement. “It is not acceptable that a child had access to a gun and took it to school.”
A 13-year-old student told police that the suspect had shown multiple students a gun hidden in his backpack that morning. The incident occurred on the third day of classes for the Albuquerque public school district.
Superintendent Scott Elder says that students will be returning to school on Tuesday, Aug. 17, and that there will be a variety of counseling and support services available to them. “Of course it’s extremely difficult,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure in the community. People are nervous. It was a terrible incident that happened between two people. It should have never happened … This shouldn’t happen in the community. It certainly shouldn’t happen at a school.”