School Slaying Suspect, 13, to Be Held Until Trial

The victim was protecting another student from bullying, police say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 18, 2021 5:37 PM CDT
School Slaying Suspect, 13, to Be Held Until Trial
Albuquerque Police Department officers search a student after a shooting at Washington Middle School left a 13-year-old dead on Friday.   (Ryan Laughlin/KOB 4 TV via AP)

A 13-year-old New Mexico boy accused of shooting and killing a classmate in Albuquerque will remain in custody pending trial. A Children's Court judge agreed with prosecutors during a virtual hearing Tuesday and ordered the boy to remain at the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center, the AP reports. The boy is charged with an open count of murder and unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school premises. The AP does not generally identify juvenile crime suspects. The shooting happened during lunch hour Friday at Washington Middle School in front of numerous students, who had returned for the fall semester just two days earlier. Police have said the victim—13-year-old Bennie Hargrove—was trying to protect another boy who was being bullied.

The suspect’s court-appointed attorney, Dennica Torres, raised issues of the boy’s competency during his initial appearance, saying the teen needs treatment for mental health issues. Judge Catherine Begaye ruled that he poses a danger to others. Students returned to school Tuesday to find a bolstered police presence and crisis counselors. Court records, police reports, and witnesses detail the history of the suspect's family with Albuquerque Public Schools and the criminal history of the boy's father. In November 2015, an elementary school teacher said she was in a classroom with a parent and her daughter when, without warning, the suspect's mother came into the room and attacked the mother. In 2018, a fight between parents that started with words escalated to poles, bats, and gunfire in the pickup lane outside Highland High School. The suspect's father had shot and wounded another parent, but police never filed any charges after finding that both men had defense claims.

(More school shooting stories.)

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