The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

First responders prevented more Monday tears


September 3, 2017

The first call for help came from the Clovis-Carver Public Library at 4:13 p.m. on Monday.

Twelve minutes later, ambulances were already making their way to Plains Regional Medical Center with injured shooting victims and the man police say was responsible for the violence was in custody.

The suspect — Clovis High School sophomore Nathaniel Jouett — was likely in custody five or six minutes after police were called.

Two people died and four more were injured, but the first responders saved countless lives with their quick and courageous action, City Manager Tom Phelps, District Attorney Andrea Reeb and Fire Chief Mike Nolen all believe.

“You’d want to break down and cry if you had a minute to do so,” Phelps said.

We’ve all done a lot of crying this week, but this seems like a good time to express an opposite emotion — heartfelt thanks to those law officers and ambulance personnel who risked their lives to bring the horror to an end.

Lisa Baird, a library employee whose desk placed her in the center of danger, said the gunman immediately surrendered when police came storming through the door.

“(The) coward ... put his gun on the counter so the cops wouldn’t shoot him when they entered the library,” she said.

By all accounts, police — led by Chief Doug Ford and three or four other experienced officers — rushed into the library moments after they arrived, with little certainty of what they’d find.

Baird said they came in shouting, ‘“Lay on the ground, get down, lay on the ground,’ over and over again.”

The gunman immediately complied and the shooting stopped.

Phelps attributed the police response to “constant training” and “quality people.”

“Thank God we got ’em,” he said.

Nolen said good fortune was also on the side of the angels.

The fire station on Mitchell Street happened to be the scene of regional classroom training when the call came in about an active shooter.

“We had double staffing (because of the training), along with local and outside police officers just five or six blocks away,” Nolen said.

Some of the out-of-town first-responders went to the library with those from Clovis. The visitors who did not rush to the scene stayed behind to work unrelated calls for help.

“And Melrose and Texico both came to town with ambulances, and I mean just immediately,” Nolen said. “We didn’t have to worry about calls (unrelated to the shooting); we were covered.”

Clovis’ air ambulance was on an unrelated call when the shooting was reported, but helicopters from Portales, Tucumcari and Amarillo all arrived at Plains Regional Medical Center within 53 minutes — about the time doctors and other medical professionals had stabilized the victims so they could be flown to University Medical Center in Lubbock.

Phelps and Nolen said teamwork between agencies was evident on Monday as well as Wednesday night when the city saw more than 30 phone calls threatening violence at the hospital, mall and multiple other businesses.

None of the threats materialized, but residents said they felt comforted when they saw the heavy police presence in response to each.

Those actions last week, plus the well-documented police heroics on July 4 when a boy drowned at Hillcrest Park, give us all a certain level of comfort. If we have to call 911, well-trained assistance will be coming soon.

“It makes me extremely proud to have a small role in the supervision of those folks,” Phelps said.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc.’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rob Langrell and Editor David Stevens.


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