Video of Farmington shooting shows gunfire exchanges, shooter's haunting challenge
FARMINGTON ― A video lasting more than six minutes that the Farmington Police Department released Thursday shows the chaos and terror in a residential neighborhood moments after a gunman opened fire Monday on cars and houses at random, killing three women and injuring several others.
Police released two home surveillance camera clips and two clips from body cameras worn by officers. The home surveillance camera clips reveal how Beau Wilson, 18, a Farmington High School student, shot and killed Shirley Voita, 79; Melody Ivie, 73; and Gwendolyn Schofield, 98 as they passed in vehicles through the North Dustin Avenue neighborhood shortly before 11 a.m. May 15.
Near the end of the second home surveillance clip, after Wilson has fired dozens of rounds, the teen shooter can be heard calling out a haunting message to the neighborhood: “Come kill me!” he shouts before unleashing another round of fire from his assault rifle.
More:Police find note on body of teen shooter who killed 3 in Farmington, New Mexico shooting
The third clip is body camera footage from an unidentified officer carrying a long rifle. Much of the field of vision is obscured as he carries his weapon in front of his body, but the video does capture the officer’s verbal and radio communication with citizens in the area and his fellow officers as he pursues Wilson on foot south on Dustin Avenue.
The officer begins by walking, but he accelerates to a sprint after spotting Wilson and issuing a description of him to other officers via his police radio. The officer orders Wilson to show his hands, but the shooter runs to a nearby church and resumes firing.
The officer gets back on his radio and calls for additional backup, continuing to pursue Wilson as additional police vehicles stream into the area. As officers emerge from those vehicles, the officer takes charge, telling his associates, “Right here, follow me!” He directs them toward a white house, previously identified by police as the First Church of Christ, Scientist at 713 N. Dustin Ave. That's where Wilson apparently decided to stop running.
The confrontation ends when Wilson is taken down in a volley of gunfire.
“Subject is down! Subject is down! Cease fire! Cease fire!” the officer behind the body camera can be heard saying.
Officers approach Wilson’s prone body, ordering him not to move, then handcuff him.
“Subject is down. He is secured,” the officer with the body camera says into his radio.
The fourth clip is from the body camera worn by Sgt. Rachel Discenza, a 10-year veteran of the department who was one of two officers wounded in the incident. After arriving at the scene in a squad car, Discenza runs toward the shooter and takes cover behind a row of shrubs at one side of a parking lot. She extends her arms in front of her body while gripping her service weapon with both hands.
Discenza follows two officers out from behind the protection of the shrubbery to the sidewalk and advances toward the shooter. Another burst of gunfire erupts, then Discenza staggers and falls into a prone position while exclaiming to officers, “I’m shot.” Discenza tries to regain her footing, staggers and falls again. The camera captures her right arm extended, still holding her gun.
When another officer asks Discenza where she has been hit, she responds, “My legs, I think.”
As an officer begins to administer aid to Discenza, he calls out for help.
“We got one hit. Give me a medic here for Sarge,” he says before turning back to Discenza.
“Just breathe. Just breathe,” he says over the sound of her huffing and puffing and approaching sirens.
Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe fielded questions at a briefing at the Farmington Civic Center after the video was shown to reporters. He acknowledged that the footage packed an emotional wallop.
“There’s a lot to be proud of, if you’re a Farmington resident, of the department,” he said, while adding it also is the source of considerable grief.
When asked if he believed Wilson intentionally had placed himself in a position to be shot by police at the end of the confrontation, Hebbe said it is difficult to guess at the mindset of someone else. But he noted there are indications that is exactly what Wilson was trying to do.
“He has opportunities to run off,” Hebbe said. “He does not use those opportunities.”
Hebbe was out of town at the time of the incident and monitored the situation over the phone with his staff. He returned to Farmington on Tuesday. He said there was nothing in the video that substantially altered his understanding of how the incident unfolded. But he said he was taken aback by the number of shots that were fired and the ferocity of the exchange between his officers and the shooter.
“It sounds like you’re watching Afghanistan or Iraq,” he said, comparing the situation to being in combat. “I was not prepared to see that and hear the volume of the shots.”
Hebbe later said that while there are obvious limitations to the body camera footage, he was pleased to see that the video showed his officers employing many of the techniques they had learned during their active-shooter training exercises.
“What I liked best is you see a lot of the training we’ve done,” he said, adding that other footage that has not been released shows officers administering CPR to Wilson after he was shot.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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