Drunk Teen With Loaded Gun at School Released to His Parents

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been blaming gun owners for the state's abysmal rates of violent crime for several years now, so I'm curious to see if she'll have anything to say about a recent incident in an Albuquerque high school. I'm guessing the governor will be mum about a teen allegedly possessing a stolen gun at school while he was intoxicated, since there's no easy way to point the finger at gun owners for the teen's actions. 


Moreover, if Lujan Grisham did decide to raise a stink, she'd be helping to shine a spotlight on one of the real issues in the state; a broken juvenile justice system. 

Authorities say a West Mesa High School student was found intoxicated and with a loaded gun in his waistband in a classroom on Monday afternoon.

Monica Armenta, an Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman, said the student told police he bought the gun from a friend.

The Albuquerque Police Department discovered the gun was one of 150 stolen from a gun store during a large-scale burglary in 2020, according to an APD incident report. 

In a letter to parents, Principal Michele Torres said the student “did not express any intentions of harming himself or others.” She said the teen will face discipline “up to and including expulsion and prosecution.”

The 16-year-old, who is in 10th grade, was charged with unlawful carry and possession of a firearm on school grounds.

Instead of being booked, however, the boy was turned away from the Bernalillo County juvenile detention center and returned to his parent’s home, according to a letter from Sheriff John Allen and District Attorney Sam Bregman.

According to the sheriff and D.A., the juvenile facility wanted the teen sent to a local hospital for a blood draw, even though authorities had already taken him to an emergency room to be looked at before transporting him to the facility. There was some dispute over whether or not that second trip was needed or even allowed, and according to a county spokesperson the Albuquerque Public Schools eventually made the call to return the teen to his parents. 


The teen’s family declined to comment Tuesday.

It was the most recent incident to fray relations between law enforcement and the detention center, where 13 teens caused a disturbance on Christmas Day. The incident led to minor injuries, property destruction and Allen’s crisis negotiators bargaining with teens over items like chicken wings.

At the time, Allen called into question whether the facility is equipped to handle its population. Parents and advocates of the teens jailed there, meanwhile, have asked county officials to improve living conditions inside the facility.

The facility, which has been dealing with staffing shortages, has had increased occupancy after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the automatic detention of juveniles for possessing a gun. Since September, 160 juveniles have been jailed after being found with a gun statewide, according to the governor’s gun violence dashboard, which hasn’t been updated since March.

It doesn't sound like her demand was accompanied by an increase in funds to help with the staffing shortages or ensure safe conditions for both employees and those being detained, which raises the question: has the governor's order helped to create unsafe conditions in the juvenile facility? 

In her letter to parents, West Mesa Principal Torres thanked the student who “alerted us to the firearm” and said it was proof that “our see something/say something messaging is working.”

“Incidents like this heighten anxieties within our school community,” Torres wrote. “... It is crucial for everyone to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspicious activities or concerns. Your watchfulness and willingness to speak up play an integral role in maintaining a safe and secure environment for our students and staff.”


The first step of "see something/say something" may be working, but once authorities have been alerted there appear to be some major issues with what happens next. If the governor were serious about tackling violent crime she'd be paying far more attention to the criminal justice system than responsible gun owners, but she's made her priorities crystal clear. Violent criminals and illegal gun use are a secondary concern. It's those pesky New Mexicans exercising their Second Amendment rights who are her chief concern... and the primary target of her executive actions.  

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