By MORGAN LEE, SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN and ANITA SNOW (Associated Press)
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Videos released Thursday of this week’s deadly rampage in northwest New Mexico recorded a voice said to be the shooter urging police to “kill me” and officers rushing toward the 18-year-old gunman before fatally shooting him outside a church.
“He is yelling on the Ring footage, ‘Come kill me,’” Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said of Beau Wilson, the high school senior who authorities say killed three older women during the attack.
“He’s making a stand, he has opportunities to run off, he does not use those opportunities,” Hebbe said. “So yes it’s my belief that ultimately in his head, he has made the decision that he is going to stand and fight it out until he is killed.”
Three older woman were killed Monday by the shooter, including a mother and daughter who happened to be driving through the neighborhood. The victims were identified as longtime Farmington residents Gwendolyn Dean Schofield, 97, her 73-year-old daughter, Melody Ivie, and 79-year-old Shirley Voita.
At least six other people were wounded in the shootings, which sent waves of grief rippling through the community of 50,000 people. They included two police officers, who have been released from medical care as they recover.
Hebbe’s comments mirrored an account from witness Candi Brammell, who lives next to the church and told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the gunman seemed to be egging police on, saying: “Come on!”
Brammell said she couldn’t believe what she was seeing as Wilson opened fire. Within an instant, he was exchanging shots with the police and then was down in the grass.
Wilson lived with his father in a home that contained an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, apparently legally owned, according to law enforcement authorities. He bought an assault-style rifle last year after he turned 18.
On Monday, police say, he began shooting indiscriminately with the rifle from the front porch area of the home.
The first person hit was Voita, a retired school nurse who was driving by. Video released by police showed her car rolling down the street with the door open after she managed to get out.
Video also showed the path of a vehicle carrying Schofield and Ivie, who stopped to help. Schofield was a teacher her entire career, and Melody followed in her footsteps by running a preschool for 40 years.
“They see something in the road, which turns out to be (Voita), and they’re in the process of pulling over” when another hail of gunfire erupts, Hebbe said, narrating the images. “At that time we believe all those rounds are fired from (the rifle).”
Police say Wilson soon dropped the weapon into some bushes even though it still held more live ammunition.
Wilson then walked down the street for about a quarter mile, spraying bullets indiscriminately using two pistols. He discharged a .22-caliber gun and then depleted rounds from a 9-mm weapon in the final shootout with police, during which he let off at least 18 rounds.
He wore what appeared to be a modified protective vest with steel plates, but authorities say he discarded the vest before the shootout with police.
Police body camera video showed the perspective of one officer walking and running down the middle of the residential street, readying an assault rifle in one hand while barking commands into a radio in the other. On the run, he takes cues from a local resident and a dog runs beside them.
That video is later partially obscured, but a shadow on the ground shows the officer bracing in firing position for the final confrontation.
“I have eyes on the suspect. He’s walking south. He’s wearing all black,” an officer tells dispatchers in another video segment.
He then yells, “Farmington police! Let’s see your hands!“
A police car speeds by with flashing lights and sirens.
Video from the body camera of Sgt. Rachel Discenza showed her pointing her handgun toward where the suspect was standing. Amid an exchange of gunfire, she falls to the ground, and says: “I’m shot.“
She struggles unsuccessfully to get up, and a fellow officer uses her belt as a tourniquet.
“We got one hit. Get me a medic here for sarge,“ he yells.
In the grass in front of the church, officers rush to the suspect after the gunfire subsides, telling him not to move. One officer cuffs him, while another says, “Subject is down. He is secured.”
A note was later found in the pocket of the discarded vest that said, “If your reading this im the end of the chapter.
The gunman’s body was left in the grass for a time as investigators worked the scene, and it was unclear then how many times he was shot.
Police said earlier this week that they couldn’t say how many gunshot wounds the victims had suffered and were waiting on the medical investigator’s report, which had not been made public as of Thursday.
Neighbor Bryan Brown, who was among those who ran to render first aid, told AP that Voita had gunshot wounds to the leg and the head.
Relatives of the three slain women said each left an indelible mark that will continue to shape the lives of others.
“In immeasurable ways, this heart-wrenching incident has impacted not only our family, but those of the Voita and Wilson families,” the Schofield and Ivie family said Thursday in a statement. “We have a shared grief and ask for continued prayers and privacy as we embody the faith, grace and love of our mother and grandmother and embark on a path of healing and forgiveness.”
Police have been probing for motivations behind Monday’s rampage, which took place the day before Wilson was due to graduate from high school, amid some indications from relatives of prior mental health issues.
Efforts were underway by authorities to access medical and school records that might shed light on his mental history.
Montoya Bryan reported from Albuquerque and Snow reported from Phoenix.
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