Cleveland HS shooting suspect will stay in juvenile detention for now

The teen accused of opening fire inside Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho on Valentine’s Day will stay in juvenile detention until he can get a psych evaluation. 

In court Monday, there was a lot of talk about 16-year-old Joshua Owen’s mental state. Owen stood silently next to his attorney as he confirmed Owen is in special education and has serious mental health issues.

The search warrant says 16-year-old Joshua Owen claims he was hearing voices that told him to carry out the shooting.

Court documents also state that Owen wore a ski mask on Thursday morning around 7 a.m. when he walked up to three people in a hallway.

One person told police that Owen pointed the gun at them, but it didn’t go off. Another student reported seeing him shoot the gun into the air, then run off.

Owen was later found in an arroyo about a mile from the campus. Police were able to find him because he had sent a text to a teacher saying where he was.

Monday, Owen’s attorney asked that he be released to his parents to make sure he continues to take his medication. They also asked that he undergo a more in-depth mental health evaluation. 

“He’s got some serious mental health issues so, at this point, we want to make sure that we find out everything about Joshua. What happened and what’s going on through his mind,” said defense attorney Steve Archibeque.

However, Judge George Eichwald ordered Owen to be held in juvenile detention until that evaluation can be complete for the safety of himself and others.

Police did find a so-called hit list that included Owen’s ex-girlfriend and others. According to the mother of the ex-girlfriend, she says Owen had made threats to harm people at the high school a year ago.

“A few days after she broke up with him he sent her text messages saying the voices wouldn’t stop and that he wanted to get a gun and shoot up the school,” she said.

She says the district didn’t take the threat seriously enough, letting him return to school weeks later. Now she’s hoping for changes after speaking with the superintendent following Thursday’s shooting. 

Monday, a district spokesperson issued the following statement:

While I am unable to discuss specific student matters, I believe it is important that parents and community members know that we take all threats very seriously and fully investigate all rumors, reports and information concerning threats to our schools. These investigations include the Rio Rancho Police Department. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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