'He just wanted to make peace'

Aug. 15Juan saucedo Sr. noticed that his handgun was missing on Friday around noon. He called his wife at 41, who confirmed that she had not taken the gun. Then he drove to Washington Middle School, where his son is a student.
Saucedo Sr. saw police and Fire Rescue officers handcuff his son after he allegedly killed his classmate with the father's gun.

These were some of the details that Juan Saucedo Jr. was charged with late Friday in relation to the murder of Bennie Hargrove.

Investigators believe Hargrove was trying stop Saucedo bullying his friends. Saucedo then pulled out a gun and shot him several times.

A classmate, who knew both boys, said that she heard gunshots and then turned to see Hargrove go to his death.

It hurts ever since. It's painful to see someone die in that way, right in front you," said the eighth grader. Juan wanted to shoot him, but he just wanted peace. He wanted to kill him, I suppose."

Monica Armenta, spokesperson for Albuquerque Public Schools, said that it was the only school shooting fatality in the district.

Saucedo Sr. was expelled from Highland High School in 2018 after he injured and shot another parent in a fight at the student pick up lane.

Saucedo Sr. wasn't arrested, and the District Attorney's Office declined both men to be charged after concluding that they had "valid defense claims."

"Given the father’s history, our detectives will be looking into every factor that could have contributed to Friday’s tragic shooting," said Police Chief Harold Medina in a statement to The Journal. It is unacceptable that a child was able to access a gun and take it to school.

When reached by telephone Saturday, the Saucedo family declined comment.

"Stark reminder"

Mayor Tim Keller stated that Hargrove displayed "courage" when faced with bullying during a time when many children lived in the area.

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He said that it was possible that his actions could have prevented something worse from occurring. He pleaded with parents to ensure their guns were secure and stated that the incident serves as an "urgent reminder" about the importance of guns being kept away from children.

He said that Friday was a tragic and dark day for the community, something that we had never seen before. "It is something we don't want to ever see and will be part of our collective trauma for many decades."

A criminal complaint was filed with the Children's Court.

Around 12:40 p.m., officers responded to the shooting at Washington Middle School 1101 Park SW. Hargrove was found with multiple gunshot wounds east of the school. He was taken to a hospital.

Saucedo was taken into custody by Joanne Urbanic, an APS officer.

Police were told by a 13-year old classmate that Saucedo had earlier shown multiple children a gun that he had taken in his backpack.

According to the teen, Saucedo placed the gun behind Saucedo's leg when Hargrove approached. Hargrove was unable to see the gun. Hargrove told Saucedo that he wanted to stop bullying his friends and that he didn't want to fight with Saucedo, but that he wanted him to leave his friends alone.

According to the teen, Saucedo pointed the gun at Hargrove then fired multiple shots at Hargrove.

Saucedo told officers that he was sorry when he was taken to the main station police station. He also said that if they offered him food, 'I don't deserve it.

Saucedo's father said that Saucedo noticed his gun missing around noon on Friday. He claimed he called his wife to inform her that he had lost his gun at noon Friday. She then told him to go to school to witness his son being handcuffed.

"Why him?"

Hargrove's grandmother Vanessa Sawyer said that Hargrove couldn't wait for school to resume after the pandemic.

She said that he was so excited that he ordered me to shop for 'I must have this, and I must have that'.

Hargrove, however, told Hargrove on Thursday that another eighth-grader was picking on a sixth-grader and he wasn’t going to let it go."

Sawyer stated, "I had asked him not to get involved because it could escalate into more." Sawyer wondered aloud how a 13-year old gets a gun.

She stated that she tried to capture a photo of her grandson for weeks and finally he agreed to let her take it.

He never liked taking pictures and then he said, "Go ahead, take one Grandma," she laughed.

Sawyer received word that Hargrove was shot during lunch break hours later and was eventually declared dead.

Sawyer claimed she raised Hargrove and seven of his siblings in Albuquerque, mainly girls. She stated that he wasn't the most academically gifted but loved basketball and wanted the opportunity to play in the NBA. Sawyer described him as having a "winning smile" with a kind heart.

She thought he would make a great lawyer.

He was very argumentative. She said that she will miss him more than any other person in the world. "I couldn't say or do anything without him disagreeing with me about any color, any rock, any topic."

Sawyer stated that he was above all a protector.

She said, "We don’t feel safe when he’s not home... so I don’t know what I’m going to do or how to feel safe again with him away."

On Saturday morning, you could see a group of candles, flowers, and handwritten messages at Washington Middle School, west downtown. Friends, family, classmates, and strangers all came to leave flowers and pray for the victims. Some wore shirts that featured Hargrove's image and the words "In loving memories."

Three Hargrove cousins came to the memorial and held each other, their eyes widening, with tears streaming down their faces. One cousin stated that the family was still grieving the death of Trevonte Robbins (19 years old), who was shot and killed in Downtown on July 10.

Later, classmates and their parents gathered at a memorial hour.

Many spoke of Hargrove’s beautiful eyes, and his reputation as "a protector” for those who were close to him. Some spoke of Saucedo Jr. who "changed over the years" and became a bully. He would boast about shooting with his father.

This was unexpected, however.

"Right away when I heard that it was Juan, was I, like, 'Why?' "Why would he do this to Bennie?" one girl questioned. "Bennie didn't deserve it; he deserved so much better."

Deanna Parra stated that Saucedo tried to fight Hargrove Thursday. Saucedo, she claimed, said to others that he would bring a gun to school on Friday.

Parra stated, "Nobody thought of it. Then I discovered he actually murdered him."

Sandra McCloud stopped to pay respects at the memorial, as she drove her grandson Tomas in a stroller-shaped car down the sidewalk. McCloud, 71, said that she was there to witness the events unfold Friday along with her sister.

She recalled attending the school back in the 1960s when it was Washington Junior High. McCloud stated that there were no fences back then, and that school shootings were never a concern.

It was very personal. It was very personal. She said it was not the same as when she walked through here, shaking her voice. "... He says to me, "Everything is so much different." "... My son, he says, 'Everything is so different.' I reply, 'You don't know.' "

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