ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The New Mexico teenager accused of fatally shooting his parents and three younger siblings may have been planning a shootout at a Wal-mart.
Nehemiah Griego, 15, is accused of gunning down Greg Griego, 51, Sara Griego, 40, and three of their children: a 9-year-old boy, Zephania Griego, and daughters Jael Griego, 5, and Angelina Griego, 2.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, investigators believe the teen shot and killed his mother, young brother and two young sisters about 1 a.m. Saturday. They think he then lay in wait for five hours before ambushing his father when he came home.
The Journal also reported 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, the Journal reports. It was apparently a church security officer who called police about the slayings at the Griego home late Saturday.
Griego remained in custody Monday on two counts of murder and three counts of child abuse resulting in death. He was arrested following the shootings Saturday at a home in a rural area southwest of Albuquerque where he lived with his family.
Investigators trying to piece together what led to the violence found several guns believed used in the shootings, including one described by authorities as a semi-automatic assault-type rifle. The owner of the weapons hasn't been determined.
"There's no other way to say it, except that we have a horrific crime scene down there that we are working on," said Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said.
"Right now we're to the meticulous points of processing the scene and collecting physical evidence, and this is a vast scene with a lot of physical evidence," Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department spokesman Lt. Sid Covington said Sunday.
Investigators were at the scene Monday but refused to release any more details about the crime. Spokesman Deputy Aaron Williamson did confirm there was no history of any emergency calls to the home in the recent past.
Among the victims was Greg Griego, a former pastor at one of Albuquerque's largest Christian churches. He was well-known throughout the law enforcement community for his work with Albuquerque firefighters and as a volunteer chaplain who offered spiritual guidance to inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
"Chaplain Griego was a dedicated professional that passionately served his fellow man and the firefighters of this community," Fire Chief James Breen said in a statement. "His calming spirit and gentle nature will be greatly missed."
Jail Chief Ramon Rustin said Griego was instrumental in the creation of the county jail's chaplain program and worked to get inmates integrated back into the community.
At Calvary, the Christian church, Griego oversaw the Straight Street program for jail inmates.
On Sunday, a police roadblock cut off public access to the narrow dirt road that leads to the home, which is surrounded by trees and an agricultural field on one side.
Neighbors said they saw the first police cars and ambulances arrive at the home Saturday night. The road was blocked and word of the shootings began to make its way through the neighborhood.
Peter Gomez, a 54-year-old carpenter who lives about 200 yards from the home, said he had seen the family - a husband and wife and their four children - pass by many times but didn't know them personally.
"It's a horrible thing," Gomez said. "You see all this stuff that happens all over the country, the shootings in the schools and theaters, and then it happens right here. It's sad."
Authorities declined to release details of any conversation that the 15-year-old had with investigators, but they said he was the Griegos' son.
The sheriff's office said it wouldn't release any further information about the case until Sheriff Dan Houston holds a news conference Tuesday morning.
The teen was expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.