Gun On Campus: Former EVHS Student Arrested For Bringing A Firearm To School

by Staff Reporter / Oct 08, 2015 / comments

Gun On Campus: Former EVHS Student Arrested For Bringing A Firearm To School

Staff Report

It all allegedly started with a 15-year-old girl and what amounts to an unhealthy crush on an older boy. A 15-year-old female student at Española Valley High School (EVHS) had been communicating via Facebook and social media with Sonny A. Romero, an 18-year-old former EVHS student. Parents of the girl felt the nature of this relationship was inappropriate and attempted to prohibit her from communicating with Romero, but Thursday morning the 15-year-old EVHS student allegedly invited Romero to meet her on campus at the high school. Romero's visit to the high school unfortunately triggered a series of events that paralyzed the school and frightened an already rattled community.

Romero is believed to have entered campus sometime in the late morning or early afternoon. Campus security officers encountered him in the gym. When the security officers tried to question him he left the gym, but apparently did not leave campus as earlier reported. The school security officers contacted police dispatch and the schools resource officer, Sheriff's Department Deputy Mark Webb.

Deputy Webb arrived on campus a short time later and was directed by campus security toward the student parking lot where Deputy Webb saw a male suspect walking away. When Deputy Webb was able to get close to the male suspect he saw the individual try to conceal something in his crotch area. Deputy Webb was eventually able to approach the suspect and in a search discovered a loaded semi-automatic 9 millimeter Glock handgun concealed in the front waistband of his jeans. Also located was a folding pocket knife in his left front pocket. The suspect identified as Sonny A. Romero was placed under arrest and is being detained at the Rio Arriba Sheriff's Office for further questioning.

Rio Arriba Sheriff's Deputy Mark Webb.
Valley Daily post photo

The discovery of a loaded firearm on campus triggered the school administration to initiate a lockdown to enable law enforcement to complete a full investigation and determine that all the students were safe.

All students were moved to the cafeteria during this period where they remained for several hours. During the investigation police determined that Romero was on campus at the invitation of the 15-year-old female student. Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez stated that this student’s choice to invite Romero onto campus violated several school policies and the student will be facing consequences from the school, and possibly legal.

Late Thursday afternoon Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was joined with by Española Public Schools Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez and Española Police Chief Richard Gallegos in a news conference to detail the events at EVHS earlier in the day.

Along with the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department, the Española Police Department and the Española Public Schools were involved in the investigation and locked down of the school. Speaking at the news conference Thursday afternoon both Sheriff James Lujan and Española Police Chief Richard Gallegos

Rio Arriba Sheriff James Lujan, Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez
and Police Chief Richard Gallegos. Valley Daily Post photo

commended the EVHS school staff and students for handling a stressful situation with professionalism and calm. Sheriff Lujan also confirmed that today’s incident had no connection to threats earlier in the week that triggered an earlier lock down and school closure.

Once the police investigation was complete Superintendent Gutierrez spoke with all the students debriefing them about the situation. Gutierrez stated that the students understood the seriousness of the situation and behaved exceptionally well. Sheriff Lujan added that following Gutierrez’s briefing to the students and faculty, the students all broke into song and sang Happy Birthday to the superintendent.

Romero now faces possible felony charges including unlawful possession of a handgun by a person less than 19 years of age, unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, unlawfully bringing a firearm on to a school campus, and other charges.

Superintendent Gutierrez said classes at EVHS will resume as normal tomorrow. Let's hope it's a calm quiet day.