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

Clovis observes library shooting anniversary

For many, remembering Aug. 28, 2017, daily ordeal.

 

August 26, 2018

Tony Bullocks

The community held a candlelight vigil outside the library days after the tragedy.

CLOVIS — Tuesday marks a solemn occasion: the first anniversary of Clovis' deadly library shooting, perpetrated, police say, by a teenager charged as an adult with murder and facing trial next year.

For the day itself, the city has planned a morning observance to feature a moment of silence honoring the two librarians slain during the incident, along with the four people injured and countless others affected directly or indirectly in a year of shock, frustration and trickling scares.

"On behalf of the City of Clovis, I would like to thank the public for their outpouring of support during what has been a very difficult time," said Mayor David Lansford. "I would like to acknowledge the emergency personnel who assisted at the library and all those agencies and individuals who have assisted in so many ways in the past year, but more importantly, I would ask that, as a community, we continue to keep those personally affected by the tragedy in our thoughts and prayers."

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Much of the city does not need a reminder of what happened. For many, remembering the events of Aug. 28, 2017, is a daily ordeal.

It can be as simple as walking past the Clovis-Carver Public Library, situated directly across the road from the Curry County Courthouse where Nathaniel Jouett, now 17, has another court hearing on Monday.

In court months ago, a state prosecutor called the event an act of terror, and the proof of such is in the way it has colored or influenced subsequent events.

It could be during community festivals, when fireworks have brought library patrons harrowing memories of at least 19 rapid shots during a torrent of gunfire that afternoon, as they have testified in court.

It could be for students and parents who grappled with threats of violence posted on social media, or for those in the public during a cascade of bomb threats phoned in across local businesses and other entities just days and weeks after the shooting.

There is no way of undoing what occurred, and perhaps little decisive escape from the shadow of the shooting. Yet the way forward, at least for many, is to seek justice and peace for the victims while resuming operations as much as possible.

The library, shuttered more than two weeks after the shooting, reopened quietly in September after a candlelight vigil. It will be open Tuesday after the observance for normal patron hours. Paintings of circulation assistant Wanda Walters and children's librarian Krissie Carter — both killed that day — will be hung soon over the library's fireplace.

Four other shooting victims were hospitalized for days, and still in various stages of recovery.

"We're still struggling, but hopefully one day we'll come out on top," said Denise Madrid, whose children Noah, 10, and Alexis Molina, 21, were among the shooter's victims.

Last week she asked the community pray for her kids and sent a photo of them together that she wanted shared.

"I don't want anyone to forget the innocent faces of the lives he changed forever," she said.

Jessica Thron, then a circulation assistant of six years, has since left the library for a new job. Almost nine months after the shooting, she said in court she was still attending weekly therapy for the gunshot injury to her left arm.

Howard Jones, a patron in the library with family at the time, suffered nerve damage from the gunshot to his forearm and was limited to using one arm for much of the past year. He said he had triple bypass surgery after a heart attack in January.

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Jouett, 16 at the time of the shooting, was arrested on site and has remained in custody awaiting a month-long trial scheduled for March in Roswell. District Attorney Andrea Reeb charged Jouett as an adult for the severity of his crimes, meaning he faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

If he's convicted of anything less, Jouett is subject to an "amenability hearing" to determine if he could be treated in the state's Children, Youth and Families Department until the age of 23. His defense attorney Stephen Taylor is experienced in representing children who have killed, and both he and prosecutors have kept busy these past several months interviewing witnesses and preparing for trial.

Part of that preparation means seeing that Jouett is fit to stand trial. After a judge denied Taylor's motion to transfer the teenager to a less-secure adolescent treatment facility in Albuquerque, the courts have outlined a plan for him to receive mental health treatment locally while in the county's juvenile detention center. Taylor has noted behavioral "outbursts" while in custody from the teenager who was suspended from school after a fight soon before the shooting.

Those from the church Jouett had recently attended said he had an episode during a gathering the night before the shooting and had to leave early then, too.

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In videos recorded moments before the incident, Jouett apologized to his parents and said he acted alone and decided to "just go as I will." He told police in interviews following that he originally planned to target Clovis High School, and that he didn't know how he picked the library but that he didn't shoot at anyone in particular. Testimony in subsequent court hearings said Jouett appeared to look directly at a surveillance camera before he pulled from a bag two guns taken from his father's safe.

In the pandemonium ensuing, Jouett shouted: "Run! Why aren't you running? I'm shooting at you! Run!," according to an eyewitness.

Jouett was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, and child abuse. He was also charged with 20 counts of assault with intent to commit a violent felony.

In a span of six seconds, Jouett shot 14 times from a .380 caliber handgun, killing two and injuring three others, court records show. He then switched to a .45 caliber handgun, with which he shot a fourth victim and fired four times into a door blocking another potential victim.

He surrendered immediately when police arrived. Speaking moments later with an investigator, he asked why one of the women he shot was on the ground, not moving, without anybody helping her.

In April, while listening in court to audio from the shooting, Jouett broke down crying and was escorted out. He has not appeared in court since, but another hearing on his case is scheduled for Monday.

Some material support has gone out to victims of the shooting, and to honor the legacy of the slain librarians. Half of some $60,000 raised following the shooting went to an "unmet needs" fund for victims, while the remainder is to be apportioned out for the paintings, memorial scholarships and in donations to local high school libraries.

Editor David Stevens contributed to this report.

 

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