Disturbing details on the latest mass killing by firearms in America continue to emerge—but where are the national media?
Nothing proves how common these chilling events have become than the relative shrug and ho-hum about the latest. No wonder these modern day killers—including the latest kid out in New Mexico—who crave notoriety aim to slaughter dozens. How else to cause much of a ripple today?
The New York Times, for example, in print and on its site, had zilch on the New Mexico episode for a full day, and now has nothing but a sketchy AP report.
President Obama has repeatedly invoked the dead school kids in Sandy Hook who will not grow up to live rich, productive lives. Well, we now have three more elementary school kids dead, in New Mexico. Who mourns for them outside Albuquerque?
Sunday around noon I started covering the most recent mass slaying, this one in New Mexico. A kid, 15, had been arrested, and five people had been found shot to death in the house where he lived. Something told me this tragic incident would have layers that would reveal much about gun culture and laws in America and the current debate over gun control. But I could not have imagined just how much it would.
Slowly, details emerged. An AR-15 semi-automatic rifle was found nearby. The kid was IDed as Nehemiah Griego. One of the dead was his dad, who had served as a local pastor, and was a beloved chaplain to the Albuquerque Fire Department and a prison. Then it emerged that the other four deceased were his mom and three siblings—all under the age of 10, one of them a 2-year-old. Neighbors didn’t know much about the shooter, except he seemed to be wearing camouflage every time they saw him (see photo above). Apparently he had been home-schooled.
Then, Monday morning, the Albuquerque Journal posted many shocking details. The weapons included not just the AR-15 but more, including a .22 rifle.. He had gotten them out of his father’s unlocked closet, not a gun safe, after he had a “minor disagreement” with his mother. He shot her in her bed, then the three little kids, in their beds, with the .22. Waited a few hours, then shot Dad when he came home, multiple times, with the assault rifle.
Then: Loaded up van with weapons and started to drive to local Walmart, where he planned to slaughter many more, then kill himself. Called friend, fortunately, who suggested he stop by church and maybe think about it. Security guard there calls cops.
Kid admits much of this to police, and they say he had long has history of violent fantasies and suicide. And: He took a photo of his dead mom and sent it to his girfriend.
No important updates since late yesterday, but a press conference is scheduled for today. But I will note again the lack of national media coverage: You now need dozens shot in a theater, or a US congressman nearly killed, or twenty school kids murdered, to cause much of a ripple. Young Griego needed to carry out his plan of slaughtering dozens at Walmart—which he nearly did.
Yet this incident reflects so (sadly) perfectly the current gun control debate, including the easy access to weapons, including an assault weapon—his father buying them, and then his son taking them from unlocked closet and using them. And amid the debate over guns in schools—here’s a kid who was home-schooled, and then killed three of his young siblings. And his father was a “good guy with a gun”—which was used against him. Finally, why was the kid obsessed with violence for much of his life, as the stories suggest?
More evidence of how little this story has spread: Salon with a major piece today on how so many recent “killing sprees” started with slaying or targeting a woman—and it doesn’t even mention Griego’s shooting his mom.
Go here for updates all day.
Greg Mitchell last wrote on the media's role in the Manti Te'o hoax.