January 21, 2013
About the Video: It was a “horrific” crime scene that confronted deputies Saturday night: Pastor Greg Griego, his wife, Sarah, and their three youngest children lay dead — fatally shot multiple times with an assault rifle and other weapons — at their South Valley home.
The suspect in custody is the couple’s 15-year-old son, Nehemiah Griego, who authorities believe shot and killed his mother, young brother and two young sisters about 1 a.m. Saturday, and then lay in wait for five hours before ambushing his father when he came home.
The Journal also has learned that authorities believe Nehemiah then put several loaded weapons, including the assault rifle, in the family van with the plan to drive to the nearest Walmart, gun down more people and eventually die in a shootout with police.
But Nehemiah called a friend first, who talked him into meeting at Calvary church, where Nehemiah’s father had been a pastor. It was apparently a Calvary church security officer who contacted 911 about the slayings at the Griego home late Saturday.
Nehemiah Griego is now in the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center, charged with two open counts of murder and three counts of child abuse resulting in death.
The couple had 10 children, but only the three youngest and Nehemiah were at home during the shootings.
The sheriff’s office has identified the victims as Greg Griego, 51, a former pastor at Calvary Chapel, as well as at the Metropolitan Detention Center; his wife, Sarah Griego, 40, a stay-at-home mom who home schooled their children; Zephania Griego, 9; Jael Griego, 5; and Angelina Griego, 2.
“I’ve never seen a scene quite like this,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston told reporters at a news conference Sunday morning.
Shot in their beds
Throughout Sunday, the sheriff’s office released few details.
But the Journal has learned that sheriff’s investigators found multiple weapons at the Griegos’ home, including an AR-15 semiautomatic assault-style rifle and a .22 caliber pistol. It appears Nehemiah used both weapons in the slayings, although it was not immediately clear which guns he allegedly used to kill which of his family members.
The Journal also has learned more details about what detectives believe unfolded at the Griegos’ home in the small hours of Saturday morning. They include:
Nehemiah had a minor disagreement with his mother on Friday night. He waited for her to go to sleep in her bedroom. About 1 a.m. Saturday, he went into his mother’s room and shot her multiple times.
His 9-year-old brother was sleeping in the bed, too, and as he woke up, Nehemiah told the youngster he had just killed their mother. He then shot his brother multiple times.
In a nearby room, Nehemiah’s young sisters began to scream and cry. He walked across the hall and into their room, then opened fire, shooting them both multiple times.
Nehemiah next went downstairs and waited several hours for his father to come home. His father arrived about 6 a.m., and Nehemiah shot him multiple times.
After the killings, Nehemiah put the AR-15 rifle and a shotgun, both of which were loaded, into the family’s van and drove away.
His plan was to head for the nearest Walmart. Once there, he planned to kill several people and wait for police to arrive. Ultimately, he planned to spark a gunfight with law enforcement and die in a hail of bullets.
But first he called a friend who convinced him to meet at Calvary Chapel.
Law enforcement are still trying to piece together what happened over the next 12 hours. But it appears that Nehemiah spent much of that time at the mega church on Osuna.
Eventually Nehemiah told a church security guard, who was a retired police officer, that someone had killed his family at their South Valley home.
The security guard and Nehemiah drove to the home. The guard looked inside, saw Greg Griego dead on the floor and called 911. It was about 9 p.m.
Authorities believe Nehemiah’s parents owned the guns. The weapons had been stored in a closet, not in a gun safe.
They also believe Nehemiah may have had violent fantasies including killing and murder-suicide scenarios for much of his life.
Nehemiah Griego was not well-known among those living within a block or so of the family’s home.
However, neighbor Peter Gomez said he saw the boy walk with siblings and his parents through the neighborhood regularly, and he “wore nothing but camouflage stuff.”
Another neighbor said Nehemiah wanted to be a soldier. Although he always wore Army clothing and camouflage, Nehemiah wasn’t allowed to play violent video games, the neighbor said, since the boy’s parents didn’t allow anything “dirty or violent” and limited TV watching.
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