Pastor: Teen was suicidal
August 29, 2017
CLOVIS — The teenage boy accused in the deadly shooting at Clovis' public library had been in trouble at school, had recently contemplated suicide and had "anxiety attacks" that resulted in his going home from church on Sunday morning, his pastors said.
Nathaniel Jouett was arrested without incident after police said he opened fire a little after 4 p.m. Monday in the library, killing two people and injuring four more.
Pastors at Clovis' Living Word Church of God said the shooting stunned them because they thought Jouett was making positive strides in recent weeks, following what both described as a "very hard life."
"He started coming to church about 3 1/2 months ago," said Pastor David Stevens.
"My daughter called him and asked if he wanted to hang out."
Stevens said his daughter soon learned Jouett was "laying with a gun at his side and a suicide note in his pocket" as they talked on the phone.
Once Jouett began attending church, he was a regular, often participating in multiple worship services in a week.
"I know that he had been turning his life around," said Living Word's Associate Pastor Bonetta Hutson.
"I know last week ... he was jumped in a bathroom. And then he got into a fight on Friday and was suspended for two days," Hutson said.
Stevens said Jouett was upset about the fight.
"He said he tried to avoid it. He knew that's not what he was supposed to be doing," Stevens said.
Clovis schools Superintendent Jody Balch said he did not know if Jouett had been fighting or if he were suspended.
Stevens said Jouett was at church on Sunday morning, but began having "anxiety attacks" during services and had to go home. He returned for Sunday night services and then spent about an hour at Stevens' home with other teens.
"He said his chest had been hurting him all day," Stevens said.
Stevens said Jouett lived with his father and was estranged from his mother.
He declined to go into detail about the boy's past, but said he'd recently given a testimony about his Christian faith at church.
"So I have been baptized and gotten back in 2 church," Jouett wrote on his Facebook page on Aug. 14.
"I have this overwhelming joy. (T)hank you 2 the church for making it feel like home."
Editor's note: Pastor David Stevens is not related to the article's author.