A teenager who killed two people and wounded four others in a shooting at a small-town New Mexico library had a troubled past but appeared to have turned his life around after joining a local church and accepting Jesus, his pastor said Tuesday.
Sixteen-year-old Nathaniel Jouett had been baptized this summer and was helping the church raise money to send teen members to youth camp just days before he opened fire Monday afternoon at the Clovis-Carver Public Library, Pastor David Stevens said in a telephone interview.
Jouett, a sophomore at Clovis high school, had been suspended from school for two days for fighting at the time of the shooting, Stevens said.
“Before Christ came into his heart, he was just crying, broken,” said Stevens of the Living Word Church of God in Clovis. “He said, ‘Now I got something to smile about.’ We had no indication of anything wrong with him.”
Two library employees, Krissie Carter and Wanda Walters, were killed in the shooting, Clovis police Chief Douglas Ford said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Among the wounded was at least one child, a 10-year-old boy, Noah Molina, who was airlifted along with three other people to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas and was in satisfactory condition on Tuesday, said Eric Finley, spokesman for University Medical Center in Lubbock.
Also wounded were Noah’s sister, Alexis Molina, 21, and Howard Jones, 53. Alexis Molina and Jones were in serious condition Tuesday, Finley said. The fourth surviving victim was identified by Ford as Jessica Thron, 30.
Asked about the motive for the shooting, Ford said “we’re still working on that”.
Curry County District Attorney Andrea Reeb said at the press conference she would seek to have the case moved to adult court. She previously said the case would be handled in juvenile court.
Stevens said Jouett was being held in seclusion since his arrest at the library on Monday. He said his daughter, who had been dating the teen for the past three-and-a-half months, received a text message from friends on Monday saying there had been a shooting and that Nathan, as he was called by friends, was there.
“My daughter thought Nathan had been shot,” Stevens said. “So my wife and daughter went downtown to the library, and he had been arrested. He was the shooter.”
Jouett used to carry a suicide note in his wallet before joining the church, Stevens said.
Clovis, with a population of about 40,000, is around 190 miles (300 km) east of Albuquerque. It is home to Cannon Air Force Base.
(Reporting by Zelie Pollon in Santa Fe, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Keith Coffman in Denver, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Andrew Hay)