November 21, 2017

Two Killed, Four Injured in NM Library Shooting

Purple memorial bows on Clovis-Carver Public Library
Courtesy of KRQE News 13

On the afternoon of Monday, August 28, a gunman opened fire in the Clovis-Carver Public Library (CCPL) in Clovis, NM. Kristina “Krissie” Carter, a youth service librarian, and Wanda Walters, a circulation assistant, were killed, and four others wounded, including a second CCPL circulation assistant. The shooter was taken into custody at the scene.

Nathaniel Jouett, a 16-year-old high school sophomore at Clovis High School, surrendered at the time of the shooting and was taken into custody by Clovis Police.

RANDOM SHOTS, SURRENDER

The single branch CCPL serves the city of Clovis, about 200 miles east of Albuquerque, with a population of just under 40,000.

According to court documents, Jouett, who had been suspended from school the Friday before the incident for fighting, had taken two handguns from his father’s safe. Originally he planned to target his school, he told police; instead, he went to the library, although he said he knew no one there. According to reports taken by the police, Jouett entered the library around 4 p.m. and began shooting randomly as parents, children, and other patrons hid

under tables or behind doors.

Circulation supervisor Scott Jones called 911 and gave a description of the shooter, he told the Eastern New Mexico News. Police arrived quickly and Jouett surrendered immediately. He is currently being held at Clovis Juvenile Detention Center. Police have not released a motive.

The victims were taken to University Medical Center in Lubbock, TX, 120 miles southeast of Clovis. At press time, two of the injured—CCPL employee Jessica Thron and Alexis Molina—were in serious condition. Library patrons Howard Jones and Alexis’s ten-year-old brother, Noah Molina, are in satisfactory condition. All are expected to survive.

On the afternoon Wednesday, August 30, a number of bomb and mass shooting threats were called in to the Eastern New Mexico News, Plains Regional Medical Center, and local retail outlets and restaurants, but none proved to be actual threats, although the hospital evacuated some personnel and locked down most entrances and exits until Wednesday night. “The citizens of this community are on edge with the recent events, as would be any community,” police said in a news release. “We encourage citizens to report any unusual activity.”

NATIONWIDE CONDOLENCES

Carter lived most of her life in Clovis, raising her two daughters there and leading the local Girl Scout troop. She had worked at the library since 2002, and was known to the children as Miss Krissie. “She loved her job. Even more, she loved the kids that came with it,” her daughter, Chelsey Jorde, told the Albuquerque Journal.

Walters had worked in the library since 2010. She was described by one library patron on a KOAT newscast as “a lovely woman, and she helped me anytime I needed help. She was there for me, asked how I was doing.” On the same newscast, Suzette Duran, who worked across the street from the library, added, “It’s just going to be so hard for me to walk in there now and not see their faces anymore.”

In a statement issued August 29, the American Library Association (ALA) offered its sympathies and support to the CCPL community. “We are shocked and saddened by the shooting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library in New Mexico,” said ALA president Jim Neal. “We mourn those who were killed, and we offer our thoughts and prayers for the wounded, the families of the victims, library staff, and the community. ALA offers its full support to Clovis-Carver Public Library, the New Mexico Library Association, and the New Mexico State Library as they deal with this senseless violence.”

Neal added, “Unfortunately, we must all be prepared for violence in public places. The ALA encourages its members to work closely with local law enforcement and officials to prepare and train for violence prevention and response.” ALA also provided a series of links to library emergency and violence prevention resources, as well as ALA’s Resolution on Gun Violence Affecting Libraries, Library Workers, and Library Patrons. At the 2016 ALA annual meeting in Orlando, in the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, BreAnne Meier of the North Dakota State Library provided a program on Active Shooters in Libraries.

Libraries across the country have echoed and added to these statements on CCPL’s Facebook page with condolences and messages of support.

“An attack on a public library is an attack on the basic American idea of an inclusive, civic-minded, and informed society,” said New York Public Library president Anthony Marx in a statement. “The New York Public Library stands with its colleagues in New Mexico and around the country in defense of those values.”

The New Mexico Library Association extended its sympathies as well, adding, “This public library works diligently to continually offer many free services and support to all who enter the library. This violent attack is incomprehensible, but I ask that the NM Librarians stand strong for our fellow librarians in Clovis, families of the victims, and the community of Clovis.”

CCPL remains closed until further notice. Clovis Municipal Schools will provide counselors for students and staff in the close-knit community. Local churches and pastors have also stated that their doors will be open to anyone who needs to talk, and residents have organized their own invitations to share. CCPL has shared the New Mexico Crisis Line number on its Facebook page.

On Wednesday morning, CCPL general manager Misty Bertrand led a “Toddler Time” story hour in the ballroom of Clovis’s Civic Center. Guests signed get-well cards for the injured, and left their signatures on banners with pictures of Walters and Carter, who had traditionally led story times at the library. The children gathered around a therapy dog named Bella, although most were too young to have been told about Monday’s incident. “I think it’s good for them to have their routine because they don’t really understand what’s going on,” one mother told the Eastern New Mexico News.

Friends of the murdered library workers have set up GoFundMe pages for the families of Carter and Walters. Clovis residents have been tying purple bows around town in memory, and an impromptu memorial has been growing on the steps of CCPL.

Lisa Peet About Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is Associate Editor, News for Library Journal.

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