Briefs

Court records: NMSU basketball player was ‘lured’ into fatal ambush on UNM campus

By: - November 21, 2022 3:02 pm

According to a State Police detective, four UNM students were involved in a plan to draw an NMSU basketball player onto the University of New Mexico campus on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, where a fight led to gunfire and left one person dead. (Photo by Sam Wasson / Getty Images)

In a sworn affidavit, a State Police detective says a New Mexico State University basketball player was “lured” into a fight on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque on Saturday, which resulted in the player fatally shooting one of his attackers ahead of a scheduled rivalry game. Two UNM students had been charged as of Monday afternoon.

UNM response

“Words cannot describe the heartbreak and dismay the UNM family is feeling over the emerging information concerning the incident this weekend,” Cinnamon Blair, a UNM spokesperson told the Albuquerque Journal “These ill-fated events have led to great loss and sorrow for many.”

UNM on Monday posted a news release containing resources for students and others on campus who may have been impacted by the shooting.

In an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed in state District Court in Albuquerque on Sunday, State Police Agent Miguel Gaytan wrote that he interviewed 19-year-old Jonathan Smith, who is being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center and charged with aggravated battery, conspiracy to commit a felony and tampering with evidence in connection to the shooting.

The detective wrote that Smith said he’d attended the Oct. 15 UNM versus NMSU football game in Las Cruces along with Brandon Travis and Elijah Scott, and “got into a fight and got jumped.” Smith told police the group “knew one of the people they had fought” was 21-year-old Michael Peake, a junior forward on the NMSU basketball team.

“Jonathan told me, Eli, Brandon and he had talked about getting revenge,” the detective wrote.

Gaytan wrote that he interviewed another student, someone under 18, who is detained in the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center. She is charged with aggravated battery and conspiracy in connection with the shooting, according to a State Police news release.

Saturday’s game was canceled after the shooting. It is not clear whether it will be rescheduled, and the teams are still scheduled to play in Las Cruces on Dec. 3, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.

She was planning to meet up with the NMSU player, the affidavit stated, and on Saturday, she was in Travis’ dorm room when the UNM students agreed to “jumping” Peake.

She said Peake took an Uber to the Coronado Hall on the UNM campus to meet her, according to police.

Surveillance video shows Michael Peake and the teen walking outside the residence hall when three people walked up, and one “pointed a gun at Michael,” the detective wrote, adding that she said Travis was the one who pointed the firearm at Peake.

“Two other males stood behind Michael, and one of those males hit Michael on his right leg with a bat,” Gaytan wrote. It is not clear from the affidavit who hit Peake with the bat.

Peake ran away, and Travis “fired at Michael several times,” the detective stated.

NMSU response

New Mexico State Chancellor Dan Arvizu said in a written statement on Sunday there is still important information about the shooting that is not known.

“I’m confident all the relevant details will come out in time,” Arvizu said. “That information will then help to inform our next steps as a university.”

Peake drew his firearm and shot back at Travis, according to the affidavit, hitting him, and Travis fired again and hit Peake in the leg.

Travis later died, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Peake is in stable condition, according to ESPN.

Only Smith and the person who is under 18 have been charged so far. 

Gun violence in New Mexico

New Mexico had one of the highest gun death rates in the United States in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The New Mexico Legislature overwhelmingly passed and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a law earlier this year that created a new crime of making a shooting threat, increased by six years the penalty for the existing crime of felon in possession of a firearm, and allows courts to lengthen sentences for using or firing a firearm in some circumstances.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.

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