Charges possible for parents of Washington Middle School shooting suspect

Politics - Government

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A 13-year-old boy is accused of bringing a gun from home and killing his classmate last week at Washington Middle School. The suspect’s father had his own history with guns at a school. On Monday, KRQE News 13 asked the District Attorney why he was never charged and if he could face charges in his son’s case.

Juan Saucedo Jr. is accused of killing 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove at school Friday afternoon. However, his father, Juan Saucedo Sr., made headlines in 2018 after shooting a man in the student pick-up line at Highland High School. He was not charged back then. The DA’s office says after a thorough review, Saucedo Sr’s actions were justified and technically, he was on a public street and not on school grounds.

“I think we should look very carefully at maybe expanding the zone around schools where firearms are permitted,” said Raul Torrez, Bernalillo County District Attorney. “But under New Mexico law, if you’re attacked with a deadly weapon, you have a right to defend yourself.”

Witnesses and video from that incident showed the other parent taking out a bat and beating Saucedo several times before he retrieved a gun and shot the other parent, hitting him in the leg. Torrez says while he doesn’t agree with Saucedo Sr’s decision to take the gun anywhere near a school, their decision not to pursue charges was based on multiple eyewitnesses, and morally, they can’t go after a case that they can’t prove without a reasonable doubt.

But what about now, after police say his 13-year-old son got a hold of his gun and used it to kill another student? That’s where charges get tricky.

“We’re going to be actively looking at whether or not there’s any criminal liability in the instant case for his parents or anyone else who might have allowed him to have access to the weapon,” said Torrez. “We’ll be looking very carefully and very closely at the facts surrounding the murder of Bennie Hargrove to see whether or not anyone who may have enabled him to access that weapon can be held criminally responsible.”

DA Torrez says in the past, they’ve been able to use the child abuse and child endangerment state statutes, but nothing will come until detectives complete their investigation. As for Juan Saucedo Jr., the DA’s office says it’s too early to determine how they’ll charge him since traditionally, he doesn’t meet the age requirement to be tried as an adult.

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