ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Family sets the record straight about the man charged with killing three of his family members and two strangers in a shooting spree last week.
The Herreras say they are still shocked by the deadly shootings, but they say their brother, Damian Herrera, is not a monster.
“We still love him. Even though he did this, we still love him,” Carissa Herrera said.
Two days after she turned 16 years old, Carissa said she witnessed her older brother, Damian, shoot and kill her stepfather, Max Trujillo; her mother, Brenda Herrera; and 20-year-old brother, Brendon; at their La Madera home.
Carissa and her sister, Candice, say Damian was seeing a psychologist.
“Mentally, he was sick mentally,” Carissa told KRQE News 13. “He would, you know, hear things.”
“He was troubled. He needed some help, and it was just obviously too late,” Candice said.
They said the day of the shooting on Thursday, June 15, Damian had an appointment.
“We did try to help him and get him help,” Candice said.
“He was scared,” Carissa added.
Carissa told investigators she saw Damian shoot her dad and then struggle with Brendon over the gun.
She said she tried to give her dad CPR.
“I just wanted to save all of them,” she said. “I didn’t want them to get hurt.”
She said she tried to get the phone.
“I was trying to get a hold of my auntie, and I turned my back and he shot my brother. After that, he got my mom.”
Then, she said, he stared at her with a blank expression she’d never seen before.
“I was very surprised after that he let me go. He let me run, and he didn’t chase after me or anything.”
She may never know why.
She ran to the neighbors’ house across the street and called police.
For now, she’s focused on family, thinking of the memories of her parents.
“Him and my mom were the true soul mates. They were. They did everything together. They went hunting together. They went fishing,” Carissa said with a smile on her face.
She said her dad was an ironworker. In his memory, she and her sister wore his shirts, labeled with his ironworkers’ union.
They say Brendon was caring and hardworking, that he worked his way up at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort from starting as an intern and eventually working retail there.
Despite the difficulty of what happened, they said, they are also thinking of their brother, Damian.
“We still have another brother that is gonna need us no matter what,” Candice said. “We can’t hate him. We can’t forget about him.”
They said they hope he gets the help that he needs.
The sisters said they don’t know if Damian has been diagnosed yet with any mental illness, but they believe he’s been struggling on and off with it for about two years.
“It was just too powerful, whatever it was was just too powerful and it just took over,” Candice said.
They said the shooting was so shocking for people close to Damian because they know that he is a loving young man, who cares about his family.
Police said when Damian left his home after the shootings last week, he shot and killed two men he didn’t know, carjacking one of them.
Damian’s sisters send their condolences to the families of Michael Kyte and Manuel Serrano.
A memorial fund has been set up for the Herrera family. To donate, click here.