Alburquerque, New Mexico -
A 15-year-old boy remained in custody as detectives tried to piece together what led to the shooting of his parents and three of their children who were found dead in a New Mexico home.
The teenager was arrested on murder and other charges in connection with the shootings, which happened on Saturday night at the home in a rural area south-west of downtown Albuquerque, said Lt Sid Covington, a sheriff's spokesman, on Sunday.
Authorities identified the victims late Sunday as Greg Griego, 51, his wife Sara Griego, 40, and three of their children: a nine-year-old boy, Zephania Griego, and daughters Jael Griego, 5, and Angelina Griego, 2.
Word of the shootings travelled quickly through the law enforcement community, and officials began offering their condolences for Greg Griego, a spiritual leader known for his work with firefighters and the 13 years he spent as a volunteer chaplain at the county jail.
“Chaplin Griego was a dedicated professional that passionately served his fellow man and the firefighters of this community,” Fire Chief James Breen said in a statement. “His calming spirit and gentle nature will be greatly missed.”
The killings come just three days after President Barack Obama presented a sweeping gun-control package that marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in the US in nearly two decades. Obama's package was triggered by last month's school shooting in Connecticut, where a gunman with a legally purchased high-powered rifle left 20 young children and six adults dead.
Jail Chief Ramon Rustin said Griego was instrumental in the creation of the Metropolitan Detention Centre's chaplain program and worked to get inmates integrated back into the community.
Griego also was a former member of the pastoral staff at Calvary, a Christian church in Albuquerque. As part of his work there, he oversaw the Straight Street program for jail inmates.
Authorities said each victim suffered more than one gunshot wound, and several guns were found at the home, one of which was a semi-automatic military-style rifle. Investigators were trying to determine who owned the guns.
“Right now we're to the meticulous points of processing the scene and collecting physical evidence, and this is a vast scene with a lot of physical evidence,” Covington said.
Authorities declined to release details of any conversation that the 15-year-old had with investigators, but they said he was the Griegos' son. The sheriff's office said he is charged with two counts of murder and three counts of child abuse resulting in death.
The Associated Press is withholding the suspect's name during the initial investigation because he is a juvenile.
The sheriff's office said it wouldn't release any further information about the case until Sheriff Dan Houston holds a news conference Tuesday morning.
On Sunday, a police roadblock cut off public access to the narrow dirt road that leads to the home, which is surrounded by trees and an agricultural field on one side.
Neighbours said they saw the first police cars and ambulances arrive at the home Saturday night. The road was blocked and word of the shootings began to make its way through the neighbourhood.
Peter Gomez, a 54-year-old carpenter who lives about 200 yards from the home, said he had seen the family - a husband and wife and their four children - pass by many times but didn't know them personally.
“It's a horrible thing,” Gomez said. “You see all this stuff that happens all over the country, the shootings in the schools and theatres, and then it happens right here. It's sad.” - Sapa-AP