Family: Killed Rio Rancho girl was bundle of joy

7-year-old Viktoria Gabaldon and her half sister
7-year-old Viktoria Gabaldon and her half sister. Photo courtesy of her sister Monique Rivera.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A bundle of joy. That’s how friends and family describe 7-year-old Viktoria Gabaldon.

“Full of energy and whatever room she would walk into she just brought that energy with her,” said Viktoria’s half-sister Monique Rivera.

The first grader, who attended Gospel Light Academy in Rio Rancho, was shot and killed by her dad, 56-year-old Leonard Gabaldon, inside their home earlier this week, according to Rio Rancho Police.

“I can’t really comprehend it honestly. It doesn’t seem real,” said Rivera.

Police say it appears Gabaldon shot his daughter then turned the gun on himself. Gabaldon’s 23-year-old son found the two.

“He came back and indeed told the officer at the door that they were inside dead,” said Rio Rancho Police Lt. Paul Rogers.

Now, Viktoria’s family and the community is trying to make sense of it all.

“All I can say is Leonard loved that girl to no end,” said Gabaldon’s landlord Danny Nevarez.

Neighbors say Gabaldon was a loving father and would do anything for his kids, but he was depressed.

They say he had just lost his job and was in the midst of a custody battle.

Viktoria’s 18-year-old half-sister is in disbelief.

“It was awful. I was babysitting at the time and my mom was like you should probably sit down,” said Rivera.

While the family mourns the loss of their happy-go-lucky girl, the deflated balloons marking her 7th birthday party this weekend still hang on the street corner, a reminder of a life taken too soon.

The 23-year-old man who found the two dead was questioned, but released. He says he didn’t know his father and sister were dead in the home with him until police came to check on the girl because she was due back at her mom’s house.

Listen to the initial call Viktoria’s mother made to police:

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