by Thomas Guengerich
SOCORRO, N.M., June 9, 2008 – The New Mexico Tech community is grieving over the loss of a student after the off-campus murder of Garrett Joe on Friday.
Note: On-campus mental health counseling services are available for students, staff and faculty that have been affected by this death. Please call Laurie Borden at 835-6619 to schedule an appointment.
“The entire campus community is saddened by the loss of one our students in this tragic incident,” New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López said. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are extended to his family during this profound personal tragedy.”
Campus Police Chief Billy Romero said Mr. Joe, 22, of Crownpoint, died after three brothers allegedly struck him in the head, then stabbed him four times in the back at a city park.
Mr. Joe enrolled at Tech as a freshman in January 2008, according to student George Kanesta, who is the president of the Tech chapter of the American Indian Society of Engineers and Scientists.
Kanesta said Mr. Joe was an energetic and athletic student who loved writing and skateboarding.
“He was a really friendly guy,” Kanesta said. “He was always willing to help out a friend. He was also always willing to volunteer for chapter functions even though he wasn’t a member.”
Mr. Joe won a writing contest to earn a scholarship to New Mexico Tech, Kanesta said. He was studying for a bachelor’s in civil engineering.
Socorro police report that four suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder. The four suspects include three brothers – 18-year-old twins and their 19-year-old brother – and their mother of the three suspects. The three males were charged with an open count of murder, Romero said. The mother was charged with tampering with evidence, he said.
One of the twin brothers is dating the twin sister of Mr. Joe's girlfriend, Romero said.
Socorro police responded to an incident between Mr. Joe and his girlfriend at an off-campus apartment in Socorro on Thursday afternoon. Socorro police separated the pair, but did not issue an arrest, according to police reports.
At about midnight Thursday, Mr. Joe went to the skate park at Clarke Field, a city-owned recreational facility two miles from campus. There, the three suspects attacked him, Billy Romero said.
A jogger found Mr. Joe unconscious but still breathing at about 6:15 a.m. Friday, Romero said. He was taken to Socorro General Hospital, where he died shortly after arriving.
“We do everything in our power to create the safest possible environment for our students on campus,” Dr. López said. “Even though this terrible incident did not happen on campus, tragedies like this reinforce that we must be diligent in our security efforts and that we must be aware of the potential for tragic events in our midst.”