U.S. News

Teen shooter in New Mexico attack sought religion to ease troubled past

SANTA FE, N.M. (Reuters) - A teenager who killed two people and wounded four others in a shooting at a small-town New Mexico library had a troubled past but appeared to have turned his life around after joining a local church, his pastor said Tuesday.

Sixteen-year-old Nathaniel Jouett had been baptized this summer and was helping the church raise money to send teen members to youth camp just days before he opened fire Monday afternoon at the Clovis-Carver Public Library, Pastor David Stevens said in a telephone interview.

“Before Christ came into his heart, he was just crying, broken,” said Stevens of the Living Word Church of God in Clovis. “He said, ‘Now I got something to smile about.’ We had no indication of anything wrong with him.”

Two library employees, Krissie Carter, 48, and Wanda Walters, 61, were killed in the shooting, in which Jouett used two handguns, Clovis police Chief Douglas Ford said Tuesday.

Among the wounded was at least one child, a 10-year-old boy, Noah Molina, who was airlifted along with three other people to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas and was in satisfactory condition on Tuesday, said Eric Finley, spokesman for University Medical Center in Lubbock.

Also wounded were Noah’s sister, Alexis Molina, 21, and Howard Jones, 53. Alexis Molina and Jones were in serious condition Tuesday, Finley said. The fourth surviving victim was identified by Ford as Jessica Thron, 30. All are expected to recover, Ford said in a news release.

Authorities plan to initially charge Jouett as a juvenile with two counts of first degree murder, four counts of assault, four counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one count of child abuse, the news release said. Prosecutors would then seek to try Jouett as an adult, Ford said.

Stevens said Jouett was being held in seclusion since his arrest at the library on Monday. He said his daughter, who had been dating the teen for the past three-and-a-half months, received a text message from friends Monday saying there had been a shooting and that Nathan, as he was called by friends, was there.

Jouett was on suspension from Clovis high school for fighting at the time of the shooting, Stevens said.

“My daughter thought Nathan had been shot,” Stevens said. “So my wife and daughter went downtown to the library, and he had been arrested. He was the shooter.”

Clovis, with a population of about 40,000, is around 190 miles (300 km) east of Albuquerque.

Reporting by Zelie Pollon in Santa Fe, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Keith Coffman in Denver, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Andrew Hay