ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – Friends of the 16-year-old shot by Espanola police this weekend say he was an athlete and dancer who served as a mentor to others.
Police say he had a weapon, but they are not saying much more about the circumstances.
According to police, officers tried to deescalate the situation when confronting the teen, but say after he pulled out a weapon one officer pulled the trigger.
A memorial for 16-year-old Victor Vialpando now sits across the street from where the teen was shot and killed by police.
State police say just before 10 a.m. Sunday, Espanola police were responding to a call of a suspicious person.
Surveillance video from a nearby smoke shop showed three officers walking toward Corlett Street. Moments later, one officer runs back around corner with what appeared to be something in his hand.
State police said the teen pointed a weapon at police and that is when one officer opened fire.
Vialpando died moments later at the hospital.
“My heart stopped, I was deeply, deeply confused,” Roger Montoya said.
Montoya said that Vialpando was no criminal and that the teen was a gymnast, dancer and a teacher at Moving Arts Espanola.
“The last two years, classic ballet which led to a successful audition for the NM School of the Arts, where he was headed this Sept. 21,” Montoya said.
Instead, those he taught and danced with at the studio are left with questions.
Montoya said he has heard that Vialpando may have had a stick, which he says is used in karate practice.
“My interpretation with the stick is that he acquired it and was practicing with it which he often did,” Montoya said.
Then there are reports he had a gun.
“I can’t fathom him even having a gun on his body, much less holding it and pointing it at somebody,” a friend said.
State police still are not confirming what kind of weapon Vialpando was holding when he was shot. They say no officers were hurt in the exchange.
Montoya said Vialpando was the student who made a bomb threat in a text message against McCurdy Charter School in January.
State police said that threat was not credible and he was not charged.