Takeaway from New Mexico state officials holding a press conference to discuss shootings

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — NMSU officials held their first news conference Wednesday following a fatal shooting on the campus of the University of New Mexico last weekend involving New Mexico State men’s basketball player Mike Peake off to discuss it.

NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu; sports director Mario Moccia; and Dean of Studies Ann Goodman spent nearly 70 minutes on a Zoom call answering questions from the media to shed some light on Saturday’s events and the university’s response.

“The events of the last week are tragic and should not happen anywhere,” Arvizu said.

The press conference was held after a fatal shooting at the UNM over the weekend that killed 19-year-old UNM student Brandon Travis and hospitalized New Mexico State men’s basketball player Mike Peake with his injuries. Peake was at The Pit in Albuquerque for the game originally scheduled for November 19 between the Aggies and Lobos.

According to police, the shooting was in response to an Oct. 15 fight at the UNM-NMSU soccer game in Las Cruces involving Peake, other NMSU athletic students, Brandon Travis and other UNM students.

Travis and four other UNM students conspired to lure Peake onto campus at 3 a.m. Saturday morning and attack him. So far, two of those students have been arrested: 19-year-old Jonathan Smith and a 17-year-old woman.

New Mexico’s athletics director Eddie Nunez said Tuesday that the Nov. 19 game in Albuquerque will not be rescheduled and that the Dec. 3 game between the two teams in Las Cruces has also been canceled. Nunez said the choice was made out of a wealth of precautions.

Below are some key takeaways from the NMSU press conference with Arvizu, Moccia and Goodman.

Mario Moccia and Ann Goodman said the university was aware of the fight Peake and others were involved in at the Oct. 15 football game and disciplinary action was taken, although the school did not specify what it was.

Goodman said the university did not learn about the fight, or the now widely circulated video of it, until five or six days after the Oct. 15 incident. Goodman said it was still being investigated by police, but that no police report or record of it had been filed. According to Goodman, it didn’t seem significant at first. “Obviously in hindsight it’s 20/20,” she said.

There were several other fights that day at Aggie Memorial Stadium, which varsity police were investigating and investigating, Goodman said.

Goodman also said the video was not shared with UNM or UTEP officials because they didn’t know exactly who was in it.

Moccia and Goodman said that Peake — who is still hospitalized in Albuquerque as of Wednesday and has a long way to go, according to Moccia — is still enrolled with NMSU and is a member of the Aggie men’s basketball team as of now.

The state of New Mexico and each university have specific processes

The New Mexico State team will compete in a tournament in Las Vegas starting Friday. Moccia said each member of the team will be traveling to Las Vegas.

NMSU officials said earlier this week that several student athletes other than Peake were out that evening; Moccia said Wednesday that disciplinary action had been taken for those who violated the curfew but would not specify what that was.

Moccia added that other disciplinary action, including suspensions, would fall to head coach Greg Heiar and the coaching staff. It was not clear if some players would make the trip to Las Vegas but could be banned from participating in the tournament.

As for Heiar, Moccia reconfirmed that he is still the head coach of the New Mexico State program. “I have a hard time believing that Greg Heiar could have prevented this,” Moccia once said.

The school has not made clear what disciplinary action, if any, will be taken against Heiar or other members of the coaching staff, citing federal privacy laws.

NMSU has said multiple times that bed checks were performed at the Albuquerque hotel at 11:45 p.m. Friday night and an assistant coach was in the lobby from midnight to 2am. Peake and other players were still out that night, but the school would not say how many others were gone or in what capacity.

Moccia told the media that Peake told him the coaching staff “did everything right” on Saturday night and implied that Peake would take responsibility for his role in the incident rather than blame others.

New Mexico State meets San Diego in Las Vegas on Friday at 7:30 p.m. MT.