Outpouring of support after 3 die, 2 officers injured in Farmington, New Mexico shooting

A boy takes part in a Monday, May 15 candlelight vigil at The Hills Church held to honor the victims of Monday's shooting in a Farmington residential neighborhood.

FARMINGTON — Public officials and others throughout San Juan County and New Mexico expressed concern for the victims of Monday’s shooting in a Farmington residential neighborhood that left three people dead and several others wounded.

Approximately 150 people gathered outside The Hills Church in Farmington Monday night for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims. A variety of community leaders spoke, and a handful of musicians performed during the event, which was attended by San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari, Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett, members of the Farmington City Council, and others.

Pastor Randy Joslin of The Oasis Church marveled at how many people the event attracted on short notice.

“The community really responded, as our community does,” he said, describing the event as a great show of support.

Joslin described the event as somber, adding that there were expressions of appreciation for law enforcement officials and sympathy for those who lost family members in the shooting.

He was especially concerned about how Monday’s incident affected students' mental health at two nearby elementary schools, Apace Elementary, and McKinley Elementary, which were forced into lockdown, he said.

“My wife and I were talking (about that),” he said. “We don’t need that to become the norm, kids going on lockdown.”

More: New Mexico shooting: 4 die in Farmington, including shooter. 2 officers wounded. What we know

Approximately 150 people gathered at The Hills Church in Farmington Monday, May 15 for a candlelight vigil held to honor the victim's of Monday's shooting.

In a video message released by the Farmington Police Department Monday night, Chief Steve Hebbe characterized the incident as devastating, describing the shooter’s actions as “a rampage.”

“I don’t even know what to say in an event like this, how to address it,” he said.

Hebbe noted the professionalism and courage of his officers who responded to the scene.

“I’m incredibly proud of our responding officers with the threat they faced with the chaos of the scene and all that calls that came in,” he said, adding that at least nine residents called emergency dispatch to report the shooting.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe

Ferrari issued a statement on his campaign Facebook page Monday night, explaining that he was still processing what he described as “the emotional overload” of the experience.

“I want to give the friends and families of the three lives lost my deepest condolences,” he wrote. “I know their beautiful families, and that makes my heart hurt more. I pray the wounded have a speedy recovery and for the Lord to ease your pain. We are thankful you are alive.”

More: Farmington Police: 18-year-old shooter killed 3, injured 6 in New Mexico shooting

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett described the incident as a “horrific tragedy” in a statement released Monday evening.

“It is with profound sorrow that I acknowledge a shooting that occurred in our midst, an act of violence that has left us reeling in anguish and disbelief,” he said in a lengthy statement issued Monday night. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this incomprehensible time of pain and loss.”

Nate Duckett

Duckett noted that two police officers — an officer for the Farmington Police Department and the New Mexico State Police — were wounded by the 18-year-old gunman who was shot and killed by officers.

“Our prayers are with the officers and their families as they recover,” he said.

Duckett praised the work of all the law enforcement agencies that responded to the incident – the Farmington Police Department, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, the State Police, and the Bloomfield Police Department.

“Countless lives were saved because of their timely response,” he said.

Duckett received calls of community support from the New Mexico congressional delegation in Washington, the White House, the Navajo Nation, and mayors across the state, he said.

“We are a resilient community, a community that cares for each other,” he said. “In the face of adversity, we must stand together, comfort one another, and make a determined effort to heal these wounds so we can emerge stronger and not allow this act of violence to define us.”

San Juan County Commission Chairman Steve Lanier stated via email on Tuesday, May 16, that he said the shooting would forever be ingrained in the fabric of San Juan County.

Steve Lanier

“I am deeply saddened to hear about the tragic loss of life,” he said. “To families who are grieving, please know that you are not alone in your grief, and you have my sincerest condolences during this difficult time. May the memories of those who have passed bring you comfort, and may they rest in peace.”

Lanier was praying for the recovery of those injured in the shooting and expressed his gratitude for the quick response by law enforcement officials to end the threat posed by the shooter, he said. He also singled out the roles played by firefighters, emergency medical personnel, the San Juan Regional Medical Center staff, and public safety dispatchers in addressing the incident.

“I am most grateful for the people of this community who come together in times of crisis,” he said. “We rally around those who are in need and lift each other up in times of trouble.”

In a message on her Facebook page, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat whose 3rd Congressional District includes Farmington, said the shooting paralyzed Farmington in fear.

“I praise the heroes who drove to danger to stop the violence,” she stated. “I pray for the quick recovery the wounded and for the families of those we lost.”

Leger Fernandez acknowledged that New Mexico is not immune to the mass shootings that occur across the country regularly, disrupting otherwise peaceful lives.

“Every day that peace is shattered,” she stated. “Every day, we are reminded we don’t live in that world. Today is no exception.”

A Facebook message posted on U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan’s Facebook page on behalf of the state’s entire congressional delegation — U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, and Leger Fernandez, as well as Lujan — said the group was devastated by the shooting. The lawmakers expressed gratitude to the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene and the healthcare workers who treated the victims.

“Our hearts are with the families of the deceased and those injured,” they wrote. “We will continue working to ensure federal resources are made available as today’s shooting is investigated.”

The members of the state’s delegation, all Democrats, wrote that, although Congress took action to combat gun violence last year by adopting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, “today is a painful reminder that we must do more. We are committed to fighting for sensible gun safety measures that will keep New Mexicans safe.”

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.

Others are reading:

This article originally appeared on Farmington Daily Times: After Farmington, New Mexico shooting, an outpour of support at vigil