ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Police say six teens are all at the center of the shooting of a popular Albuquerque bartender.
The teens are now all charged with an open count of murder, accused of killing Steven Gerecke at his home as they robbed him.
The boys are all under 17 years old. Two of them are only 14 years old. Police say they were all caught because of stolen credit cards and surveillance video. The six teens have been indentified as:
• Christopher Rodriguez,16
• Jeremiah King, 16
• Andrew Hubler, 15
• Ryan Archibeque, 17
• Enrique Palomino, 14
• Matthew Baldonado, 14
Four of the six teens appeared in court Friday. Rodriguez, King, Hubler and Archibeque all appeared before a judge who set bond at $250,000 cash only for each of them.
The case began two weeks ago when Gerecke’s body was discovered in his driveway. It happened at 3 a.m. in the 1400 block of Chihuahua NE last month. Police said the homeowner confronted a group of suspects in the neighborhood near Tramway and Indian School who were breaking into cars. He was then shot and killed.
At an Albuquerque Police press conference Friday, Gerecke’s daughter read a statement which called out the parents of the boys as partially responsible for her father’s death.
According to the criminal complaint, police say the same teens also shot at another man on the same night of Gerecke’s death. That man, Charles Lawson, also caught them in the act. Lawson told KRQE News 13 they ran off with his TV, loose change and jewelry. He woke up to the sounds of them ransacking his house and saw them run out the front door at his home near Academy and Wyoming.
“Then I heard three shots as they run up, I heard three shots from the next block up here,” said Lawson in an interview with KRQE News 13 on Thursday evening.
Police say the teens were all together robbing homes and cars on the night of Gerecke’s murder. According to the complaint, police say the teens had been “mobbing,” or committing numerous group burglaries in neighbors across the northeast part of town for weeks.
The victim of the shooting, Gerecke, was a well-known bartender at “Spectators” in the Northeast Heights. Police say the six teens who killed Gerecke are now in custody. KRQE News 13 was unable to obtain the teens mugshots on Thursday as juvenile detention facility representatives declined to release photos of the minors.
According to a criminal complaint, police tracked the teens down through surveillance video after they used stolen credit cards at the Walmart on Eubank.
The complaint states that with still images from that surveillance video, detectives then met with a Highland High School security guard. That security guard was able to identify one of the boys as 16-year old Christopher Rodriguez.
According to the complaint, police found more information about Rodriguez, then tracked down one of his friends for questioning. That friend, Enrique Palomino is the boy who confessed. According to the complaint, Palomino says he was sitting in the back of a stolen SUV when he heard gunshots and a man groaning.
Palomino told police that Jeremiah King, Christopher Rodriguez, Andrew Hubler and Ryan Archibeque all ran back into the SUV. Palomino told police that King had a gun and “began bragging” about shooting someone. Palomino told police say Jeremiah King began “making jokes” about shooting a man, Gerecke, in the face.
Police say before the teens killed Gerecke, they robbed Charles Lawson while he was sleeping in his bedroom. Lawson told KRQE News 13 Thursday that he believes he was almost hurt.
“It’s spooky… what if I had… if I had woken, no telling what they would have done to me,” said Lawson.
Police say Palomino, 14, and Baldonado, 14, will be charged as juveniles. However, the others will be charged as “serious youthful offenders,” meaning they will be charged as adults.
Parents and Family Appear in Court
Four of the six teens faced a judge in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court Friday as their families looked on.
Many were in tears as they saw the boys in restraints. However, at least had a far different response to facing up to murder charges, offering News 13 an obscene gesture.
After watching them shuffle in to court, the families had no words, just tears. News 13 questioned the families as they walked out of court today.
“Why do you think Jeremiah would have done something like this?” asked News 13 reporter Chris McKee of Jeremiah King’s family.
“Some people are saying that the parents are to blame for this,” asked McKee of Ryan Archibeque’s family.
“Is there anything you guy want to say at all,” asked McKee of the group of several teens families as they took an elevator out of the building.
Despite the questions, no one ended up talking to News 13.
While 15-year old Andrew Hubler, 16-year old Christopher Rodriguez, 16- year old Jeremiah King and 17-year old Ryan Archibeque are all being housed at the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center, the four teens were arraigned in Metro Court Friday because they’re being charged as adults.
The only teen with no criminal history is Ryan Archibeque. According to his public defender, Archibeque had a job and was still in school. He was slated to begin his senior year at Highland High School in August.
News 13 asked Archibeque’s family about his clean record on Friday.
“Is there anything you guys would like to say about you kid Ryan? Why he would do something like this?” asked News 13 reporter Chris McKee.
One family member replied by humming, “mmm mmm,” or otherwise taken as “no.”
The other three teens had recent lives of crime. Albuquerque Police records show the group had recent run-ins with the law for burglary, stealing, car theft, running away and more.
“We do feel he’s a danger to the community,” said a criminal background investigator during the boy’s first appearance Friday.
Based on the charges, the judge set everyone’s bond the same.
“Sir, I’m also going to do a $250,000 cash only bond in this matter,” said Judge Courtney Weaks.
Attorneys say none of the parents will likely be able to pay that amount.
The teens didn’t talk in court Friday, but 16-year old Christopher Rodriguez offered News 13 his middle finger right in the middle of the courtroom.
Two of the teens accused in this murder didn’t appear in court Friday. They are Enrique Palomino and Matthew Baldonado. They’re being charged in the juvenile court system because they’re only 14-years old.