ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Police Tuesday confirmed the two homeless men beaten to death by three teens over the weekend were Native American.
News 13 asked the District Attorney about the case and if they think this is a hate crime.
The dirt field where those two men were found dead is now a makeshift memorial with flowers lining nearby fences.
It’s where police say three teens, 18-year-old Alex Rios, 16-year-old Nathaniel Carillo and 15-year-old Gilbert Tafoya violently attacked two homeless men with cinder blocks and bricks, killing them.
A third man, police say, was able to run away.
“I was just angered and pissed-off, man,” Juan Garcia, a neighbor said. “I can’t believe it.”
Garcia says he also knew one of the teens. He didn’t say who, though.
“It’s a shock,” Garcia said. “I’ve known the kid since he was in diapers, I never imagined he would do something like that.”
News 13 has learned the two men bludgeoned to death were Native American. Police say they’re working with the FBI to ID them and notify the families.
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg weighed in on the crimes Tuesday.
“They lost their lives in a very brutal way,” Brandenburg said.
She says her office has talked about whether or not these attacks could or should be considered hate crimes.
“You know, that issue has come up and there is no indication that this was a hate crime.”
Under federal law, a hate crime is any attack against someone based on their race, color, religion or national origin.
The DA says 16-year-old Carillo and 15-year-old Tafoya will be tried as “serious youthful offenders.”
“That means if you’re between the ages of 15 and 18 and you’re charged with first-degree homicide, they will be tried and treated as adults,” Brandenburg said.
Brandenburg expects all three to be tried together and that things could be settled without going to trial.
As far as what she thinks would be an appropriate sentence, she first wants to know more about them.
“We really don’t have a strong grasp on their background, the issues they have.”
The three teens are charged with first-degree murder.
They all face life sentences but because two are under the age of 18, a judge could decide to give them less time.