Beau Wilson, a New Mexico teenager who killed three women with mental health issues
Days after an 18-year-old New Mexico youth fatally shot three elderly women in an indiscriminate shooting, police have yet to publicly discuss a motive or reveal why a teenager hours from the graduation would be committing such a horrible crime.
He killed Shirley Voita, 79, Melody Ivie, 73, and Gwendolyn Schofield, 97, who were all in cars. Schofield was Ivie’s mother. Armed with three weapons, including an AR-15 rifle he purchased legally, he emerged from his father’s Farmington home on Monday morning and unleashed a hail of bullets at nearby homes and passing cars before the policemen shoot him.
Authorities said interviews with his family and a note found in his pocket indicated the student had mental health issues. Friends and family members who spoke to NBC News about Beau Wilson said the teenager was consistently falling behind in school and struggling to cope with his parents’ ongoing divorce.
A particular point of contention in his life, they said, was quitting his high school’s varsity wrestling team in late February. The exit was largely due to a strained relationship with his head coach, according to Daxton Allison, one of Wilson’s former teammates, and Brent Stover, a Farmington High School wrestling coach who recently quit.
Wilson’s mother, Lorry Rodriguez, said her son relied on the team for a sense of purpose and peace as his home and school life crumbled.
“His life was going to be training, and when he didn’t have that, he had nothing,” Rodriguez said. “He had nothing to work for. That’s all he knew.
Rodriguez blamed herself for not having foreseen the violence that unfolded. She said she knew Wilson had purchased a gun, but had no concerns about it.
“How did I not know?” I wonder that,” she said.
Wilson became the latest shooter to terrorize a community in a country regularly plagued by gun violence, with shootings in recent weeks at a mall in Texas, a bank in Louisville and a Christian school in Nashville. Authorities said he killed Ivie and Schofield after stopping their vehicle to come to Voita’s aid.
A doorbell camera caught Wilson yelling “come kill me” during the roadblock, police said. He was wearing a bulletproof vest which he threw away before officers shot him.
At a press conference Thursday, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said he believed Wilson, in his final moments, “made the decision to stand up and fight until that he be killed”.
Mass shootings and suicides in general are usually preceded by some sort of life stressor, including job loss or romantic rejection, but there’s usually a combination of factors at play, depending on the Dr. Ragy Girgis, associate professor of clinical psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
In late February, Allison and Stover said Wilson chose to leave the team on his own because he could no longer take the pressure from the head coach.
The coach told NBC News that Wilson was not on the team for the latter part of the school year for “disciplinary” reasons, but declined to comment further on those reasons as well as his relationship with Wilson and the claims regarding their apparent discord.
“What happened between Beau and me stays between Beau and me,” he said.
On the day he left, Stover said he met Wilson and begged him to hold on. But he said the teenager was “mentally battered” at the time.
For six weeks after that, Wilson stopped coming to school, Allison said.
“Wrestling is always what kept him going and keeping his spirits up,” said Allison, 18, who has known Wilson for more than a dozen years. “It was an outlet for him. When it was taken from him, he kind of fell off the Earth.
A person close to Wilson, who asked to remain anonymous, said Wilson’s exit from the team “absolutely crushed him”.
“It was his identity. It was his happy place, where he didn’t have to worry and where he felt included,” the person said. this other difficult period. I’m sure it exacerbated that tremendously.
Artie Martinez, 36, Wilson’s older brother, said he was shocked his brother quit wrestling in his senior year, “which could have been a big year for him”. Artie Martinez, who lives in Arizona and did not know his brother’s struggles intimately, said he also struggled on the same team and left.
“When you’re that age, it feels like the world to you,” he said.
Farmington Municipal School District spokesman Roberto Taboada said the district could not discuss whether Wilson had any disciplinary action or absences. Taboada said school officials spoke to the head coach, who described to them a “regular relationship with his student-athlete.”
Monday’s onslaught caught the team off guard. While Wilson had previously made remarks about hurting himself, he never mentioned wanting to hurt anyone else, Allison and Stover said.
Wilson’s mother said her son had never been diagnosed with a mental illness, but was “shy”, “isolated” and suffered from social anxiety among his peers. She said her son never told her he wanted to hurt himself.
To his former team members, Wilson’s mental health issues were often on display, but the teenager was not fond of sharing details about his personal life, they said.
“I tried to talk to him about it, but he didn’t open up about it,” said Ivan Smith Jr., 18, a former team captain who just graduated.
Stover said he was so in disbelief to hear the news that day that he immediately called Wilson’s phone. “It’s wrong, it’s unforgivable,” he said. “But I think it was suicide by a cop.”
Stover said he learned after the shooting that Wilson contacted two other teammates at some point before the shooting and was “talking crazy” in those conversations.
Hebbe said his department serves subpoenas for school records. In the absence of other statements, the police chief said the note found in Wilson’s pocket was “pretty much the best we have” to determine a motive.
“I feel a bit lost. I just wonder why,” Stover said. “He must have felt like he was alone.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.