Hundreds gather at vigils for Victoria Martens

Vigil for Victoria Martens

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The community is left shaken; meanwhile, parents are grappling with how to explain to their kids after the tragic death of one of their classmates and friend, Victoria Martens.

Victoria had just started the fourth grade at Petroglyph Elementary School. There were extra people at the school Thursday, including grief counselors, principals from other schools and parents who

APS Letter
The letter APS sent to parents following Victoria Martens’ death.

are leaning on each other to help kids cope with the loss of this young life. Many are still in shock.

“She was kinda the first person that actually wanted to be friends with me,” recalled Shalynn Zorn, a classmate and friend of Victoria’s.

Many at the school say they’re heart broken after this horrible tragedy. Albuquerque Public Schools notified parents Thursday morning about Victoria’s death. They’re making their entire crisis team available for kids and parents on one of the hardest days they say the school community has had to go through.

“You never expect that you have to go into a school and tell kids as young as five through 11 that they’ve lost a friend,” said APS spokesperson Monica Armenta.

APS also posted a tribute to Victoria on their website. 

The district says they’re being very cautious in what details they’re telling the kids. A counselor at the school says she’s seen a lot of emotions Thursday from staff, students and parents.

Birthday party held for Victoria
Sunday at 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Mariposa Basin Park 4900 Kachina Street NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87120

Counselors are advising parents to listen to their kids and let them express how they feel about the tragedy. One counselor says some kids may react by asking a lot of the same questions, others may be sad or seem unaffected. She says just listen and let them know they’re safe.

The district is also sending students home with a list of additional resources to use during this time of grief.

Those first on scene are still dealing with the gruesome details behind this case. KRQE News 13 has learned all of them are now talking with professional therapists.

“I ask the citizens of Albuquerque to keep the first responders that had to enter that scene today in their thoughts and prayers,” said Albuquerque Police Officer Tanner Tixier. “What these gentlemen and women saw, no human being should ever have to see.”

A memorial outside the apartment complex where the little girl lived continues to grow, with things like balloons, candles and flowers placed there by family, friends and neighbors. People dropped off gifts all day Thursday.

A vigil was held at the apartment complex to honor Victoria. It was an evening of community and people came together to mourn. The crowd even sang “Happy Birthday” to Victoria as she was meant to celebrate her 10th birthday the day she was killed.

“Truthfully one of the best things we can do is what we’re doing right now and that is just simply to come together,” said Pastor Brent Lenentine with Gospel Light Baptist Church.

Another vigil was held in Civic Plaza. The mayor spoke there and told the crowd how important it is to be there for each other right now. Others all over the state also remembered the little girl on Thursday night.

This crime has sparked outrage in the community with people taking to social media to express exactly how they feel about the three suspects and they are not holding back. Just one look at the mother’s Facebook page and it’s filled with comments of people calling her a monster, sick, disgusting and much worse. Kelley’s Facebook is also filled with upset comments.

KRQE News 13 also spoke with the New Mexican’s Against Child Abuse organization. The founder says she hopes the suspects spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Other Albuquerque residents have also spoken out – some mentioning that the death penalty should be brought back. Others feel that if these suspects are found guilty that they should never walk the streets again.

Mayor Richard Berry also spoke out on the tragedy. Mayor Berry hosted a brief conference to address Victoria Marten’s horrific death. He says the city is working with APD to make sure the public knows about the resources available to them. He points to 311 to report any concerns about a child or child abuse.

The mayor also says there will be events scheduled at a later date to pay tribute to little Victoria and to bring attention to the issue.

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