Mark Hice, 22
Brittany Garcia, 21
Alex Zamarron, 18
Anton Martinez, 19
Savannah Martinez, 23
Alejandra Gonzales, 16
Katryna Moya, 17
This group of people has several things in common. The first thing that jumps out are their ages. These are young people, with bodies and minds not fully formed. Their fragile lives are just beginning. They’re products of the public school system and its many failings. They all have serious mental health issues that have gone unaddressed for years.
All are clearly susceptible to peer pressure or feelings that drive them to want to belong or please other people in the group. Why else would you get in a car with loaded weapons to drive the streets of Española seeking nameless, faceless, unidentifiable people who were “out to get” Mark Hice? That’s a fool’s errand.
We want to ask where are their parents. Who allows their 16-year-old daughter to run around with the likes of Hice and Zamarron, years older and publicly identified “men” well-known to law enforcement. But we don’t know if some of this group has parents.
We know their shooting victim Cameron Martinez had parents, good parents. Urban and Valerie Martinez operate their own business, not an easy thing to do in today’s business environment. Cameron did well in school and graduated high school, something becoming more of an anomaly and usually due to good parenting. He was probably going places, he had solid, responsible plans.
That all came to a screeching halt when he was shot and killed Oct. 4 by at least one member the group listed above.
Two things are certain in regard to the future of this group of non-thinkers. First, their lives had never truly started and their lives are over. No normality can result from what they’re all about to get dragged through. Their poor mental health will only become worse with time.
Second, if they aren’t incarcerated or provided some mental health assistance, we’ll see these folks again and read about them in the pages of this publication and they will become (if they’re not already) what local police like to call frequent fliers. The relatively short time we’ve been recording crime in the Valley, it’s common to see names continually pop up in the police blotter, E-911 calls and police reports in general.
We laud the mayor for trying to gather key people in one place to discuss this treadmill of trouble that increasingly is coming from our younger citizens. We understand and share the frustration elected and appointed officials must feel.
However, the answers are many and long term. There are no quick fixes to our drug and violence problems. The answers lie in qualified people using federal and state funds to address poverty in New Mexico and the Valley. That goes hand-in-hand with improving the family unit, allowing children to go to school properly rested, fed, clothed and prepared to learn. Those children can then grow to have choices in life instead of using drugs and getting in cars with thugs in search of trouble and life-altering consequences.
Our current political climate does not allow that as we elect people based on popularity, family ties and affiliations. Those unqualified people then appoint department heads and management teams using the same criteria or worse: political debt.
The lack of engagement by the community allows our problems to continue unchecked. When residents get their faces out of their phones and focus on the work ahead of us, we can reach a true bottom and begin healing and growing.