FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – In just hours, Yvonne De La’O’s life changed forever. She got a call from her sons’ father that he was called by friends to pick up their 16-year-old son, Elijah Chavez. She was in Española while her sons and their father were in Farmington.
“He said Elijah was walking back and forth to the bathroom throwing up, he wasn’t feeling good at all,” said De La’O. “I told his dad to keep an eye on him, get him some Gatorade, and if push comes to shove, we can take them in.”
When family went to check on the 16-year-old the next morning on Dec. 14, he was already gone. De La’O says nothing could prepare her for that next phone call from Chavez’s dad.
“I’m assuming he’s in the hospital or urgent care. Something’s going on. His dad says, ‘I need you here, you need to come now,’ and I said, ‘Well, what’s going on?’ And he told me Elijah passed away,” said De La’O.
First responders originally came out, thinking it was alcohol poisoning. His family was shocked by his actual cause of death.
“All these days go by and it turns out Elijah died of a gun wound to his back,” said De La’O. “It turns out he was shot in his vehicle and that’s all we know.”
His family had no idea Chavez had been shot the night before while riding in a car with other kids. Vomiting was actually a sign he had been bleeding internally. De La’O says not a single person that witnessed the shooting called 911.
“After the shot happened, no one called an ambulance or the police. I asked if they would’ve called the ambulance or the police, would Elijah still be here, and they said yes,” said De La’O. “How come they didn’t call the police? How come they didn’t call the ambulance? How come they couldn’t just drop off Elijah at the ER and just leave him there? Or when they called his dad, why couldn’t they tell his dad, ‘Hey, he’s hurt.’ They didn’t disclose anything so if we would’ve known or if his dad had known, his dad would’ve taken him to the hospital.”
Farmington Police say they’re not sure why 911 was never called, but they did speak to the other four juveniles that were in the car at the time who all said they were messing around with a gun and it accidentally discharged, hitting Chavez.
Police arrested a suspect, Xavion Montano, who is only 15. De La’O says her son and Montano were friends.
“When they told me who it was, I knew this kid because Elijah was helping this kid go down the right path,” said De La’O. “Elijah took him under his wing.”
The family says they’re now left with more questions than answers because very few details about the crime have been released. Chavez’s best friend started a social media movement, #JusticeForElijah, asking witnesses to come forward, a movement his loved ones are rallying behind.
“I think it’s great because his best friend, she has a voice. She’s not giving up. She is fighting,” said De La’O. “A lot of people have different opinions on justice, but me, personally, I want to know the truth.”
De La’O says she hopes to find out more about what happened to her son who loved video games, riding his dirt bike and was a member of the JROTC, planning to join the Army after high school.
“It’s hard because I want my baby back,” said De La’O. “I want this kid to realize what he did was wrong and admit it. Do the right thing. He can change his life by doing the right thing. And if he can do that, later down the road I can try to forgive. My son had a big heart.”
Farmington Police say the suspect, Xavion Montano, is facing charges a fourth-degree felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and negligent use of a firearm, because they say all witnesses that were in the car told police Chavez was shot by accident.
Montano appeared in court Wednesday morning. He is next expected to appear on March 4 and will remain in detention until then.