The family Christmas party was just winding down at 11 p.m. Tuesday night when shots rang out at a home off N.M. 14 near the Penitentiary of New Mexico.
Cedric Griego said people were starting to leave the gathering at a house on Valle Vista Court, where his nephew, John Griego, 23, was living and caring for his parents.
Both John Griego and his friend, Nicholas Baker, 29, were allegedly shot by Joe Rivera, 18. Griego died at his home; Baker died en route to the hospital.
Cedric Griego said Rivera had not been invited to the party and “didn’t even really know the family.”
“By no means was this any type of big party,” Cedric Griego stressed.
Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies were still looking for Rivera on Thursday, and they said they believe he is armed and dangerous. They have not been able to locate the gun Rivera allegedly used to shoot the two friends.
“There’s still a lot of evidence out there that’s unaccounted for,” Capt. Adan Mendoza said.
Mendoza said he believes Rivera had recently been released from a juvenile detention center in Albuquerque and that the suspect has a criminal history.
Rivera allegedly fled with several other people after the shooting, Mendoza added, and deputies are trying to locate those people for questioning. Mendoza also said investigators have confirmed that Rivera arrived at the party shortly before an altercation, which might have led to the shooting.
Mendoza said there was alcohol at the gathering, but he didn’t know if that was a factor in the violence.
Rick Baker, who was driving through the neighborhood on Wednesday morning while the police scene was still taped off, said Nicholas Baker was his nephew. “He was just getting his life back on track,” Rick Baker told The New Mexican on Wednesday. According to the New Mexico courts website, Nicholas Baker had pleaded guilty to a charge of assault on a household member in 2002.
Rick Baker also said Nicholas Baker had a 13-year-old daughter, but that she wasn’t with him at the time of his death.
Cedric Griego, who wasn’t present during the shooting, said his family is mourning the loss of John Griego while trying to piece together what happened Christmas night.
He said his nephew loved music and sports and had always been hardworking. The fact that his nephew was killed by an 18-year-old with a gun was just another example of “unnecessary gun violence,” he said, adding that “there’s just too much of it for me to understand.”
John Griego’s parents were unavailable for comment, and attempts to reach Baker’s father by phone were unsuccessful. Cedric Griego said the people to whom John Griego had devoted his life, his parents, were “taking this extremely hard.”
A $1 million cash-only bond has been set for Rivera, who is 5-foot-5 and weighs 148 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on Rivera’s whereabouts is asked to call the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, 428-3720.
Contact Nico Roesler at 986-3089 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nicoroesler.