ALBUQUERQUE — A University of New Mexico student was released from jail on Wednesday after he was accused of plotting with friends to confront a basketball player from a rival university, resulting in the shooting death of a UNM student and wounding the player .
A district judge denied a motion by prosecutors to keep 19-year-old Jonathan Smith in custody pending trial on charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy and tampering with evidence. Smith’s attorney said his client had no criminal record and was from a good family.
Authorities say the revenge plot for New Mexico State University basketball player Mike Peake followed a brawl at a college football game earlier this fall. The shooting came just hours before a basketball game was scheduled to be played between the two schools, and authorities say Peake was allegedly lured to the UNM campus in Albuquerque early Saturday.
Police identified Brandon Travis as the University of New Mexico student who was fatally shot and accused of planning the attack on Peake, the Aggies basketball team’s starting power forward.
Court documents say a 17-year-old UNM student conspired with Smith, Travis and another young man to bring Peake onto campus. Once there, the men confronted Peake and Travis shot him in the leg. Peake returned fire, killing Travis. The young girl faces charges of conspiracy before the juvenile court.
University officials confirmed Wednesday that Peake, who is expected to recover, is still a member of the team. While Peake violated the curfew and students’ code of conduct by taking a gun with him on the team outing, he was not charged with a felony.
Officials from New Mexico State University said during a news conference Wednesday that student-athletes involved in that previous bout were disciplined and that officials from both schools have held talks about how to keep students and other fans safe during rivalry games .
“We take these events very seriously and are reviewing everything we can and should do to avoid things like this happening in the future,” NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said.
Arvizu was joined by athletics director Mario Moccia and dean of studies Ann Goodman. They all spoke about the high expectations placed on student athletes and the values preached by NMSU coaches.
Goodman said the New Mexico rivalry is not unlike many others across the country when it comes to collegiate athletics, and fights that break out during such games aren’t always motivated by the rivalry itself, but rather by something else.
What sparked the fight in October is part of the ongoing investigation. Still, officials said they’ve been in talks with the University of New Mexico about ways to “lower the temperature” so hostilities can be avoided at future games between the two schools.
Guns are rarely found on campus, according to UNM and NMSU authorities.
At New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, officials said there were no arrests with guns in 2021, only one in 2020 and three in 2019. Over the past four years, UNM has identified 10 cases of gun-related dormitories in Albuquerque found. In 2019, only two resulted in an arrest, subpoena or subpoena.