TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Relatives of the victims of a shooting in Taos last week have angry words for the boys who police say are behind the attack. The shooting left a woman dead and her 19-year-old son in critical condition, and relatives say they’ve been left with a lot of unanswered questions.

The daughter of Shirley Reyes, Claudia Gutierrez, remembers the morning of Wednesday, October 5th, vividly. Her brother Joaquin Reyes called to give her the news.

“He was frantic, you can tell. And he just said, ‘Alejandro, mom, cops, mom’s not answering the phone! I jumped out of bed,” Claudia says, “All I could see is blue and red. You know, all along here. Blue and red. And I fly out of the car. It’s pouring rain. And they were taping off the fence with crime scene tape.”

“And there was a deputy just standing right here. And I said, ‘what’s going on? What’s going on?’ And you know, [he was] just saying that my brother was shot. My mom was shot. All I could just ask is, ‘and my mom?’ And I said, ‘is she alive?’ And he couldn’t look at me. And he just shook his head…I fell to the floor. And my heart stopped beating. And I died that day. Literally…All I kept saying was, ‘not my mama. Not my mama,'” Claudia remembers.


Story continues below:


Three boys would later be taken into custody: 16-year-old Javier Romero, 14-year-old Elijah Hamilton, and 14-year-old Rickey Fresquez. All of the teens are charged with first-degree murder for the death of Shirley Reyes. They’re also facing aggravated burglary, battery, conspiracy and assault charges.

The attack left 19-year-old Alejandro Reyes in the hospital fighting for his life. “My brother Alejandro is fighting for his life. I can’t release much information due to ongoing investigations, but I can tell you this: he’s the toughest person I know…He too is disabled. He’s been suffering with mental health issues in the past,” says Martin Gutierrez, the oldest son of Shirley Reyes.

“He will pull through. He’s strong. He’s the strongest person I know. But how is this going to affect his life for the rest of his life? How is it going to affect him?” Claudia asks.

Wednesday, the family met at the Rivera Family Funeral home. However, one notable member was missing: “My father who is in Mexico—I have to Facetime him while I’m at the funeral home so he can view my mama. I have to be the one to hold the phone so that my dad can see his wife,” Claudia says.

Now, the family is speaking out against the crime and asking for justice. “There’s eight grandkids; my three siblings, my wife. My brother Alejandro isn’t here. He’s in the hospital and fighting for his life. But he would be here and he’s here in spirit,” Martin says. He went on to speak about her incredible influence:

“Shirley Reyes was a 52-year-old disabled mother. A grandmother of eight. Avid TikToker with 86 thousand views on her TikTok. Shirley Reyes 307. Or, Gramma Gaga. She was an avid TikToker, an amazing friend; an activist for the civil rights in this community and communities near and far. She was an influencer for justice. She campaigned and urged everyone that their votes were important, that it was our voice. She received Christmas cards from the White House. Her home wasn’t in the best condition, but her home was warm and cozy and inviting, even to the people that harmed her,” Martin says. Family members tell News 13 she graduated from the University of New Mexico with an Honors Cord.

“She fed anybody who was hungry. She stood in front of death and was murdered by 14…and 16-year-old murderous teenage hitmen…These parents had to have known that these kids had firearms. These kids were posting them to social media,” Martin says.

“I do know that three of these detained have been detained and that one of these boys has been released on a GPS anklet. It’s a sickening fact that the judge would allow so much disrespect and disregard to human life and the justice and to the victims and the family members that are hurting in pain…And here we are. We can never hear my mother’s voice like that again. Or feel her comforting hugs or kisses,” Martin says.

“It’s like this story in the Wizard of Oz where the monkeys are shredding apart the scarecrow and they’re laughing and having a good time. Meanwhile, our friends and family are here to help put us back together but the pieces of straw and hay don’t go back the same way…Some of the straw stays in the street. Like the blood of my mother.”

“She was murdered while she lays in her bed. Cowards to murder an 80-pound disabled woman. I think that it is only fair and just that these punks get justice in the most high court and with severe punishment. As adults,” Martin says, “Laws need change. And change needs laws. And this: a request from my mother’s murder. This can only happen if they hear our voices and they hear our voices loudly and proudly.”

“I am upset. But I’m upset enough to make changes. Because those parents need to take accountability for their children,” Claudia says.

Marcus Montoya, district attorney for the Eighth Judicial District, says the investigation is ongoing: “Two of the three are in custody. One is released to the family and so, once the investigation is further along the line, we will know what charges and what procedure we’re going to be following.”

“This kid that’s out, gets to watch TV with his mama. He gets to have dinner with his mama. Laugh with her. Cry with her. Get hugs. It ended for me on October 5th,” Claudia says.

She says what was once an idyllic neighborhood, now feels changed: “This is the best neighborhood. I mean, we could sleep with our doors open. Our windows open. Sleep in the tents right in our front yard…It was safe. And now it’s just, it’s different. It’s eerie. It’s scary. There’s one way in and out, and I have to pass my mama’s house going to work, and I have to pass my mama’s house going home.”

“Every day this was my stop after work. Every day. And it was robbed from me,” Claudia says.

“This is a rare occurrence, especially in small-town New Mexico, where it’s just alarming that children are having such easy access with the ability to plan these, what appear to be, premeditated murders in the community,” Montoya says.

The motive for the attack is still under investigation. The family says they don’t know why someone would do something like this. “I have no idea. I’m 32. These are kids. You know? I have no idea. My brother was very private with you know who he hung out with and who he associated himself with. And my mom was very private with him because that was her baby,” Claudia says.

While the investigation continues, the family is left to hope for Alejandro’s recovery and to remember and mourn the mother and grandmother who was taken too soon.

“Man, this little lady, she was four foot nine and stood seven feet tall. A hundred feet tall,” Claudia says.

“I loved her a lot. And then I wasn’t able to talk to her one last time,” says Ryan Torres, grandson of Shirley Reyes.

“She loved all of us a lot. She was a very thoughtful person,” says Kylee Torres, granddaughter of Shirley Reyes.

“She was an awesome grandma and I’m just sad that they took her away from us now,” says Avelyssa Gutierrez, granddaughter of Shirley Reyes.

“We’re very broken but we’re stronger than ever. Sounds cliche but we’re broken but stronger than ever,” Martin says.

Martin Gutierrez also wrote an open letter to the public on his Facebook page here. The family also has a GoFundMe set up for funeral expenses and family relief here.