Mourners remember Santa Fe teen shot to death

·4 min read

Jul. 10—Thunder roared Saturday evening as a light rain fell on Monica Lucero Park, where nearly 100 friends and family members of Andres Griego-Alvarado gathered to pray and remember the teen, who was fatally shot Thursday.

"Andres was one of a kind," his mother, Lorise Griego, said during the vigil. "Just know he was always happy. He loved to be with everyone. He was so outgoing and wanted to make everyone happy. ... He was always laughing, dancing and singing."

Griego-Alvarado's older brother, Austin Alt, said in an interview, "He was like the kindest, nicest, most genuine guy around and always had an uplifting spirit. And one thing he hated was violence."

A rainbow appeared over the park as the clouds parted, and loved ones released a flurry of white balloons into the sky.

Santa Fe police have charged 18-year-old Efren Sifuentes-Gallegos with first-degree murder in the death of Griego-Alvarado, also 18. The shooting occurred Thursday in a vehicle parked outside the Smoke City Dos store on Airport Road, where an employee said the two friends had come in together, as they had many times before, and that the shooting didn't appear intentional.

Deputy Chief Ben Valdez said Friday, however, investigators found probable cause for a first-degree murder charge. "If it was an accidental thing, I don't know at this point if it would have moved forward with charges," he said.

Surveillance video from the store showed the teens were "horse playing or joking around" inside and continued the behavior outside before the shooting, a criminal complaint said. As they were sitting in the car, Sifuentes-Gallegos pulled out a gun and "put the gun barrel on [Griego-Alvarado's] chest area," according to the complaint, and Sifuentes-Gallegos' hand moved from the recoil of the weapon as it fired.

Both teens applied pressure to Griego-Alvarado's wound before Sifuentes-Gallegos drove to a nearby urgent care facility, where he yelled for help.

Sifuentes-Gallegos and a woman at the urgent care performed CPR on Griego-Alvarado. Sifuentes-Gallegos gave the woman his phone number and told her he was going to get his friend's parents, the complaint said, but instead he "panicked" and went home. He was later arrested during a traffic stop.

Both teens were recent graduates of Santa Fe Public Schools. Sifuentes-Gallegos had attended Capital High School, while Griego-Alvarado graduated from Santa Fe High.

Alt said his brother had planned to attend Santa Fe Community College and study to become a nurse.

Friends and family remembered Griego-Alvarado's infectious smile and the way he was always able to make people laugh. They remembered his willingness to lend a helping hand and put good out into the world.

"He wanted to change this place," his mother said in an interview. "He wanted to make it a better place; there was too much hatred."

She added: "He had a heart of gold."

His grandmother, Theresa Griego, said, "He was the best grandson ever."

Alt said his brother was always determined and did whatever he set his mind to. He loved sports and working out at the gym, where he met many of his friends.

Griego-Alvarado was very close to his 12-year-old brother, Antonio, Alt said, noting the loss had been especially difficult for the younger boy.

Griego-Alvarado's death is the latest example of a teen life taken too soon by gun violence, but his family doesn't want him to be remembered that way. Those at the vigil said they wanted to honor his life and not talk about the shooting.

"He wasn't a part of a gang. He wasn't drinking or doing drugs," said Griego-Alvarado's cousin Alan Schmitt. "He was a good kid. Remember him for the beautiful person he was. ... Someone that truly loved everybody, no matter who it was."

Velia Marin, a friend of the family, went to the vigil to offer prayers and to plea for an end to gun violence.

She urged the many young people in the crowd to stay away from drugs, alcohol and guns, and for parents to look out for those who are suffering.

"As parents, we need to come together in prayer because they are taking our young ones away," Marin said to the group in Spanish. "Young ones be careful; take care of yourselves."