Fight at Aggie Memorial Stadium precedes deadly shooting: What we know
LAS CRUCES - In the hours after the public learned there had been a deadly shootout on the University of New Mexico campus Saturday, rumors began surfacing that New Mexico State University basketball player Mike Peake was involved.
Even before it was confirmed that Peake was, in fact, one of the shooters, a video showing members of the NMSU basketball team — including Peake — engaging in a brawl with others on the concourse inside Las Cruces' Aggie Memorial Stadium during the Oct. 15 rivalry game against UNM began circulating on social media. A police investigation would reveal the fight to be the genesis of the discord between the shooters.
Arrest records show that police believe UNM student Brandon Travis, 19, and Peake, 21, began shooting at one another just after 3 a.m. Nov. 19 in a parking lot of the Coronado Hall dormitory on the UNM campus in Albuquerque. Travis was killed in the shooting, and Peake was hospitalized after being shot in the leg.
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Peake was in town for the Aggies' game against the Lobos, scheduled to tip off late Saturday afternoon.
Police believe Peake was "lured" to campus by Mya Hill, a 17-year-old girl who knew Travis, so that Travis and two other men could ambush him. Hill has been charged with aggravated battery and conspiracy.
Jonathan Smith, one of Travis' friends allegedly involved in the beating, has been charged with aggravated battery, conspiracy, and tampering with evidence. Smith told investigators that Travis wanted to jump Peake because "Peake and his friends had beat him up badly at the UNM vs. NMSU homecoming (football) game in Las Cruces, New Mexico," according to the affidavit.
Though it wasn't the homecoming game for the Aggies, the annual UNM-NMSU football game took place in Las Cruces, and there is video evidence of Peake fighting others inside the stadium during the game.
The fight video
The video, taken from the second level of the stadium looking over the concourse, begins as the fight is underway.
Two groups of four to five men can be seen in the brawl. Both groups throw punches while Peake, along with New Mexico State basketball player Marchellus "Chi Chi" Avery, are among one throng. It's not clear if other members of the NMSU basketball team are involved.
Peake throws seven or eight punches during the 54-second clip.
Toward the end of the video, a lone New Mexico State Police officer steps between the groups. Peake and another man can be seen pointing and shouting at one another while the officer tries to calm the gathering mob.
The video was first shared on Twitter by user @tioneomo on Oct. 16 and had nearly 100,000 views as of Tuesday morning.
NMSU addressed the Oct. 15 fight in a list of questions and answers sent to media Monday.
The university stated videos showing fights at the stadium were referred to the NMSU Dean of Students Office for further inquiry.
Also, NMSU attempted to answer whether disciplinary action was taken against any students as a result of those fights.
"There were multiple fights that day. In some of those instances, the students involved were unable to be positively identified. In other instances, federal privacy rules prevent the university from publicly providing additional details," the university stated.
It's not clear from NMSU's answer whether disciplinary action was taken against any students as a result of those fights.
Peake and Avery played in the basketball team's regular season and exhibition games following the fight.
Sun-News editors and reporters were in attendance at the UNM-NMSU football game and saw some of the fights from afar, though they learned of the NMSU basketball team members' involvement only after Saturday's shooting.
In the days following the game, the Sun-News searched arrest logs for anyone taken into custody related to fights in the stadium. Only one arrest was logged: An 18-year-old NMSU student was charged with one count of felony battery upon a peace officer and several misdemeanors in an incident seemingly unrelated to the fight involving the basketball players.
The UNM-NMSU basketball game was postponed after the shooting. The NMSU basketball team is scheduled to return to action Friday, Nov. 25, when the Aggies play San Diego in the first game of the Las Vegas Invitational. NMSU would play either California-Irvine or Nicholls State on Saturday, Nov. 26.
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Lucas Peerman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @LittleGuyInATie on Twitter.