NM teen spends time at church after family slain

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 2:43 am •  Published: January 24, 2013
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Sheriff Dan Houston said Tuesday there was no indication Griego intended to harm anyone at the church. The sheriff also said Griego and his girlfriend had spent much of the day together.

A prayer vigil was held at the church Wednesday night for victims Greg Griego, 51, his wife, Sarah Griego, 40, and three of their children — a 9-year-old boy, Zephania Griego, and daughters Jael Griego, 5, and Angelina Griego, 2.

Before the start of the vigil, members of the crowd shared hugs and handshakes as photographs of the victims were displayed on large digital screens at the front of the church. An estimated 2,000 people attended and nearly every seat was filled before the start of the hour-long service.

"Our hearts break, Lord," Pastor Skip Heitzig told the crowd. "We, often in times like these, scratch our heads and wonder why. We are at a loss for words and we are certainly at a loss for explanation."

Heitzig shared stories about Greg Griego, who once served as pastor at Calvary. He said Greg was always ready to "get his hands dirty" and was dedicated to helping others find God through his work as a pastor and as a volunteer chaplain. He also urged the crowd to remember that forgiveness and restoration — two tenets dear to Greg — will be important as the community moves forward.

Relatives in a statement Tuesday night said they were heartbroken, and remembered the teen as a bright and talented musician who played guitar, drums and bass with the church choir. He also was a champion wrestler who dreamed of following his family's long tradition of military service, and a boy who accompanied his pastor father on rescue missions to Mexico, they said.

"We have not been able to comprehend what led to this incredibly sad situation. However, we are deeply concerned about the portrayal in some media of Nehemiah as some kind of a monster."

The statement, emailed by the boy's uncle, Eric Griego, called on the media and the public not to use 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego "as a pawn for ratings or to score political points."

"He is a troubled young man who made a terrible decision that will haunt him and his family forever," the statement said.

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Associated Press Writer Jeri Clausing in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this report.

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Follow Susan Montoya Bryan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susanmbryanNM