On July 28, young people in Questa were relishing the last days of summer before returning to school for the 2023/24 school year. Parents were gathering school supplies while teachers were preparing their classrooms in anticipation of a new school year with new opportunities to build, grow, and learn.
News of the tragedy that occurred at 104 Cabresto Road on that day sent shockwaves throughout the community, meeting residents with confusion, devastation, and concern. Many questions surrounded the incident — what could’ve happened and why? Many parents took to Facebook, sharing the devastation their children felt due to this loss, and the community joined together in unity to cope.
The New Mexico State Police confirmed the homicide of 13-year-old Amber Archuleta in a press release to the media on July 29, including the jarring preliminary details of what happened that tragic day. Media outlets across the state drew their attention to Questa, looking at the legality around a 14-year-old having access to a firearm which belonged to his father.
In March of 2023, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 9, the Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act, which makes parents responsible for a firearm accessible to a minor who brandishes it or uses it to threaten someone, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail; and negligently making a firearm accessible to a minor resulting in great bodily harm or death, a fourth-degree felony carrying an 18-month prison term. The 14-year-old boy who is the suspect, along with his father, were both arrested and charged in her death.
On Sunday, July 30, the Farmer’s Market became a space to support all who were reeling from this tragedy. Living Word Ministries Pastor Gayle Martinez along with the IFOC Sangre de Cristo Chaplain Corps Taos, trauma-informed crisis counselors, held space for attendees to seek solace amidst the collective trauma the community was experiencing.
A vigil later that night was held at Eagle Rock Lake, where the community came out seeking comfort and connection in their sincere time of sorrow.
A couple of days later, on August 1, the family of Amber planned a march through Questa to end gun violence.
On August 12, a memorial was held at the Questa Junior / Senior High School Mini-Pit. Teachers from various class levels, both active and retired, came together in a show of support and to seek comfort from one another. The Questa school district as a whole has also been incredibly supportive for kids and families who are processing their grief since the incident happened.
Emotions through this devastating incident have ranged from shock to sadness to devastation to anger to grief as the community works to move forward, keeping her legacy alive.
The loss of a young person is a devastating burden for the family and the community to carry as people work to understand and accept the loss of a future and a life that could have been.
Amber Archuleta will live on through the memories and her family, friends, classmates, and teachers who will remember her as someone who was thoughtful, kind, funny, and empathetic. Practicing these values is what will keep her spirit alive, forever. Long Live Amber.