Around the same time 2 weeks ago during the Houston Texas Community College shootings, Nehemiah Griego, 15 years old, shot his family to death in Albuquerque New Mexico. The young man allegedly murdered his family with two rifles (a 22-Caliber and a semi-automatic military style rifle). Griego is currently facing child abuse and murder charges.
While in police custody, Griego confessed to shooting his mother and three younger siblings while they slept in bed a little after 1:00am, while waiting to ambush his father with the semi-automatic military stile rifle upon his return from a late shift at a homeless shelter. Sheriff Dan Houston described the case as “horrific” and stated that he is supportive of the evidence against Greigo in the investigation at this time.
Authorities report that the young man allegedly re-loaded his parent’s rifles, put them in the family van the morning of the slayings, and planned to randomly gun down Wal-Mart shoppers. Reports also state that Griego wandered the family’s church campus (Calvary Albuquerque) the day Sunday school teachers engaged in training’s on dealing appropriately with gun violence. Harrison, a former Police Officer and Calvary Albuquerque security, called the Sheriff’s Department the day of the murders and drove to the family home with Griego, where they met up with authorities. Why are so many youngsters ending up this way?
Challenges in the system
Troubled children and adolescents often find themselves entangled within the juvenile justice system and most are in need of a range of mental health assessments. Unfortunately, the majority of our society immediately rushes to judgment, assuming acts of violence and aggression are not fueled by a psychiatric illness. While the majority of violent acts are not, some are and they occur in cases where a mental illness is severe or untreated.
In 2008, homicide was the second leading cause of death for youth’s ages 10-24 years old (Youth Violence, 2008). Even more devastating is that individual’s under the age of 25 “accounted for 52.0% of those arrested for murder in 2006″ (as cited in Youth Violence, 2008).
A serious discussion on mental health, violence, and crime is continually needed among families, caregivers, and professionals. Adolescents are developing into adults and their brain is undergoing vast changes. The brain doesn’t fully develop until age 25. As a result, many teens engage in impulsive, immature, and sometimes murderous behaviors.
Such actions are often the result of untreated, severe, or misdiagnosed mental illness, but they can also be the result of an underdeveloped brain. There are often multiple variants that could contribute to senseless killings.
Let’s open up the discussion:
Bryan, S.M. (2013). Defense attorney weighs in on case of slain family. Chron. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Teen-spent-much-of-day-family-slain-at-church-4215872.php.
DocuThesis. (2011, September 12). Adolescent development and juvenile justice. Retrieved January 25, 2013 from, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WSU-KY69zw.
Youth Violence: A report of the Surgeon Generals. Violence and mental health. (2009). Retrieved January 18, 2013 from, http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/youthviolence/chapter3/sec2.html#cooccure.
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Last reviewed: 17 Sep 2013