April 16, 2024

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Videos show gunman saying ‘kill me’ to onrushing officers in New Mexico rampage that killed 3

4 min read

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Videos released Thursday of this week’s deadly rampage in northwest New Mexico recorded a voice said to be the shooter urging police to “kill me” and officers rushing toward the 18-year-old gunman before fatally shooting him outside a church.

“He is yelling on the Ring footage, ‘Come kill me,'” Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said of Beau Wilson, the high school senior who authorities say killed three older women during the attack.

“He’s making a stand, he has opportunities to run off, he does not use those opportunities,” Hebbe said. “So yes it’s my belief that ultimately in his head, he has made the decision that he is going to stand and fight it out until he is killed.”

Three older woman were killed Monday by the shooter, including a mother and daughter who happened to be driving through the neighborhood. The victims were identified as longtime Farmington residents Gwendolyn Schofield, 97, her 73-year-old daughter, Melody Ivie, and 79-year-old Shirley Voita.

At least six other people were wounded in the shootings, which sent waves of grief rippling through the community of 50,000 people. They included two police officers, who have been released from medical care as they recover.

Hebbe’s comments mirrored an account from witness Candi Brammell, who lives next to the church and told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the gunman seemed to be egging police on, saying: “Come on!”

Brammell said she couldn’t believe what she was seeing as Wilson opened fire. Within an instant, he was exchanging shots with the police and then was down in the grass.

Wilson lived with his father in a home that contained an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, apparently legally owned, according to law enforcement authorities. He bought an assault-style rifle last year after he turned 18.

On Monday, police say, he began shooting indiscriminately with the rifle from the front porch area of the home.

The first person hit was Voita, a retired nurse who was driving by. Video released by police showed her car rolling down the street with the door open after she managed to get out. Video also showed the path of a vehicle carrying Schofield and Ivie, who stopped to help.

“They see something in the road, which turns out to be (Voita), and they’re in the process of pulling over” when another hail of gunfire erupts, Hebbe said, narrating the images. “At that time we believe all those rounds are fired from (the rifle).”

Police say Wilson soon dropped the weapon into some bushes even though it still held more live ammunition.

Wilson then walked down the street for about a quarter mile, spraying bullets indiscriminately using two pistols. He discharged a .22-caliber gun and then depleted rounds from a 9-mm weapon in the final shootout with police, during which he let off at least 18 rounds.

He wore what appeared to be a modified protective vest with steel plates, but authorities say he discarded the vest before the shootout with police.

Police body camera video showed the perspective of one officer walking and running down the middle of the residential streat, readying an assault rifle in one hand while barking commands into a radio in the other. On the run, he takes cues from a local resident and a dog runs beside them.

That video is later partially obscured, but a shadow on the ground shows the officer bracing in firing position for the final confrontation.

A note was later found in the pocket of the discarded vest that said, “If your reading this im the end of the chapter.”

Police said earlier this week that they couldn’t say how many gunshot wounds the victims had suffered and were waiting on the medical investigator’s report, which had not been made public as of Thursday.

Neighbor Bryan Brown, who was among those who ran to render first aid, told AP that Voita had gunshot wounds to the leg and the head.

The gunman’s body was left in the grass for a time as investigators worked the scene, and it was unclear then how many times he was shot.

Efforts were underway by authorities to access medical and school records that might shed light on Wilson’s mental history.

New Mexico enacted a so-called red flag law in 2020 that can be used to seize guns from people who pose a danger to themselves or others. Judicial records show the Farmington Police Department has petitioned successfully for the removal of guns in other instances, most recently in February.

Police have been probing for motivations behind Monday’s rampage, which took place the day before Wilson was due to graduate from high school, amid some indications from relatives of prior mental health issues.

Located near Four Corners where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado meet, Farmington is a supply line and bedroom community to the region’s oil and natural gas industry.

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