Fedonta “JB” White was perhaps the best known and most recognizable teen in Santa Fe — a young man whose potential seemed as prodigious as his height.

But in a shocking and heartbreaking moment, White’s promise was extinguished.

White, a 6-foot-8 standout Santa Fe High School basketball player headed to the University of New Mexico, was shot and killed early Saturday morning, a Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.

White, 18, was scheduled to graduate in 2021 but reclassified in the spring so he could play for the Lobos this year. The most highly recruited boys basketball player in Santa Fe since Nick Pino of St. Michael’s in the early 1960s, White recently completed coursework to graduate early, Santa Fe High Principal Carl Marano said.

Authorities arrested 16-year-old Estevan Montoya and charged him with first-degree murder in connection with White’s death.

The sheriff’s office said Montoya shot White around 3:30 a.m. during a fight at a party in Chupadero.

White was rushed to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

In addition to murder, Montoya faces charges of aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a handgun and negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to the sheriff’s office.

The house in Chupadero where White was shot sits at the end of a long driveway that was blocked off by police tape Saturday. County assessor records show it is owned by Juventino and Sandra Alva. When reached by phone, Juventino Alva declined to comment.

White’s shocking death left those who knew him and rooted for him grief-stricken — unable to believe the sensitive kid whose mere presence at an elementary school would draw dozens of adoring admirers was gone.

“The whole thing is just surreal,” Marano said. “He was an incredible young man who was getting ready to fulfill his dream and be a Lobo.”

Adrienne Cole, the wife of Santa Fe High head boys basketball coach Zack Cole and a cousin of White, said the family did not want to comment in depth about White’s death.

“Our entire family is devastated,” Adrienne Cole said. “We need lots of prayers, all of us.”

Much had been expected of White on the basketball court, almost from the moment he stepped onto Santa Fe High’s campus at Siringo Road and Yucca Street. And often, he had delivered.

He was named to the Class 5A All-State second team after averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in 2019-20 as the Demons reached the state quarterfinals. He played half of the 2018-19 season before dislocating his kneecap during a game, which ended his sophomore season — a year Santa Fe High reached the big-school state final for the first time in 41 years.

As the Demons began last season, White verbally committed to sign a scholarship to play at UNM, ending a recruiting process that attracted a variety of Power Five programs, including Oregon State, Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas Tech and Texas Christian visited Santa Fe to meet White last year.

White’s decision to sign at UNM was seen as a big boost to the Lobos, who rarely find 6-8 players with room to grow so close to home. Many in Santa Fe thought he could be the best area player in a UNM uniform since the late Toby Roybal played for New Mexico in the 1950s.

But White, who said at the time the Lobos were the first to offer him a scholarship before other schools began to take notice, also seemed to think UNM would be the right fit — it was close to home, where he lived with his grandmother and mother.

Christian Kavanaugh, a 2019 Santa Fe High graduate who played with White on the state runner-up team, said White’s death was an unbelievable end to a story that could have been so good.

“I was telling myself this is crazy,” Kavanaugh said. “This guy has the brightest future and nothing can get in his way. It was horrible because he had so much potential and the biggest future ahead of him. He was so young and he was going to make his way out of here. He was going to do big things.”

White was classified as a Top 100 player in the nation by the website Rivals.com earlier this year, although it was for the class of 2021 at the time.

“Our entire community is shocked and saddened by the loss of someone whom we celebrated during his memorable time on the court and whose talent was a joy to sports fans across New Mexico. We are deeply shaken,” Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica García said in a statement. “We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and all who loved him. It is unspeakable to lose someone so young and with such promise for the future.”

White is the fourth area high school student or recent graduate to be killed in recent months.

On July 15, 17-year-old Ivan Armando Perez Chumacero, a rising senior at Capital High School, was shot and killed during a fight outside a south-side apartment complex, witnesses told The New Mexican.

On July 6 in San Miguel County, 16-year-old Adelina Tafoya, a Las Vegas Robertson High School student, was shot and killed when two men mistook her car for that of somebody who had robbed a friend, according to court records.

On June 5, Aiko Perez, a recent graduate of the Academy at Larragoite in Santa Fe, was fatally stabbed by a friend who told police he was under the influence of LSD, according to court records.

It seemed almost unthinkable that White could be on a list of tragedy. Born in Dallas in 2002, he lived in Texas for a few years and said in an interview last fall he was intrigued by football as much as basketball.

“I was for sure gonna make it to the NFL,” White said. “I wanted to play football, and I love playing football. In Texas, that was everybody’s main sport. You’d go outside, and everybody was tackling each other in the street.”

But as he grew taller and his lithe frame found a home on the court, it was clear basketball was his game. It was through the sport that he was emerging, and those close to him could see it happening.

“JB just wants you to care about him,” Demons coach Cole said in an interview last fall. “He wants to be loved. He’s pretty much to himself, so he’s not going to do something to make you notice him. But if you show him that you care, he opens up to you.”

(40) comments

Stephen Hauf

With my heart burden with news of JB's violent and senseless death, I passed a sidewalk Baby Shower while on my way to shop. At the store, I was drawn to a display of 3 pack Baby wipes, it was clear to me that perhaps an act of kindness is the best way to honor his memory. I missed the Baby Shower, but a gas pump I noticed a young family behind me and was able to give them the baby wipes. I told the mother I had missed the baby shower. If she by chance should this read this post, then she will understand why. Requiesce in pace ,JB

Stephen Hauf

One can dissect the reasons an angry young man with a gun that he should not have had and likely had no idea how devastating the consequence will have on him for the rest of his life. He may come to grasp someday the pain it has caused my colleagues and students at Santa Fe High School. Our beloved JB will never pass our way again.

Requiesce in pace, JB.

Stephen Hauf

I blame the gun.

Khal Spencer

Next time a drunk driver kills someone, I guess you will blame the car. People make bad choices. A sixteen year old has no business packing a handgun to a party. How do we stop that from happening?

Keyshawn Waters

Blame the 16 year old. Word around the block is him and his fellow gang members came to the party uninvited late in the night. Supposedly they were picking fights with everyone, doing coke in the bathroom, and they all had guns. Montoya allegedly pistol whipped another kid at this party before he killed JB. These goons were instigators that came to the party looking for trouble this was not Self Defense. The judge needs to make an example of this kid. Montoya allegedly pulled a gun on a kid at school this year and shot at a parked car, police did nothing...

Eslee Kessler

What a terrible terrible tragedy! We in this city, need to dig deep and focus on gun control and hunger to help support our youth! We all know gun proliferation and food insecurity are two major problems that impact our young people. I wish I could contribute my time to the Food Depot but all I can do in this pandemic is support these issues with contributions of money. Mayor Webber- where is a new Dept. of youth in your reorganization of city government! We need to focus on gun proliferation and food distribution and community education to impact our young people. So sad!![beam]

Eslee Kessler

Don’t know how a smiling face appeared here. Sorry.

Susan Williams

My condolences to the family of this promising young man. A totally senseless tragedy. I can’t help wondering why and how a sixteen-year-old had a gun. Guns are our national tragedy and until we as a nation address this properly, we will continue to suffer from these stupid and totally avoidable events.

REUBEN GONZALES

Nothing good happens at 3:30 in the am.

Gerald Joyce

Correct

Gerald Joyce

As did Khal, I got into fights in school none of which ended in gunfire. Maybe there should be a mandatory course in school called RESPECT. Respect for life, parents, authority, private and public property, privacy, each other, you get the idea. We have raised the last several generations wanting to be our children's friends endnote their parents or mentors. Self discipline is a learned trait. It is one thing to carry a firearm and completely another to point and fire it at a human being without thought of the consequences. Don't know how this gets turned around. It has to start at home.

Phillip Trujillo

Gerald. Over decades the entertainment industry with television and movies have normalized everything we used to think of as deviant behavior. I can remeber it as young elementary student when my mother and other stay at home moms would watch the soap operas which promoted adultery and back stabbing and conditioned people to believe they were missing out on something. It has become worse over the last 4 to 5 decades and continues today.They have also normalized love of oneself above all others and disrespect for others. They are out of control.

Gerald Joyce

True Phillip. A shame this life was taken along with the other 3 young lives. No respect, no discipline it will continue. The gun did not load itself, remove it's safety, aim itself or pull it's trigger.

Khal Spencer

Miranda Viscoli and her organization have gone school to school soliciting pledges of nonviolence from young people. But NMTPGV cannot be everywhere. Parents have a responsibility 5o be parents rather than passive bystanders.All of us who are in the firearms community must lock stuff up and keep firearms out of the hands of immature folks. Bullets don't have a recall switch and at least some young minds these days are too impulsive and violent.

Requiescat in pace .

David Brown

How will the world survive?

David Brown

The death is a tragedy....

Phillip Trujillo

Another tragic story resulting in nothing but misery for everyone involved. My condolences to JB's Family and also to the 16 year old perps family. No one wins in tragedies like this. We have all lost. I would encourage all parents whom have teenage kids or even adult children living at home younger than 25 years old, to demand the keys to their vehicle and search their vehicle. Don't believe it can't happen to you. I would also recommend a discussion about the consequences of one's actions. This type of tragedy is playing out for families in Rio Arriba County, San Miguel County and here in Santa Fe County right now. God Bless All of us.

Khal Spencer

Just a random fight ending up in gunfire? The real question, rather than all the historical stuff about what a great kid he was, and I am sure he was, is why so many of our young people get into fights and then escalate to firearms.

I got into fights in junior high and high school. One ended up with me getting a broken nose and another kid missing a couple teeth. But no one ever considered gunplay. Why has it escalated? Its not like we didn't have access to guns. Recall that back then, we barely had gun laws at all.

Bullets don't have a reverse gear. Lock your stuff up and make sure no one can access it.

Mike Johnson

Well said Khal. The culture in high school is far different than when we were that age. The party supplies are also no doubt quite different, as is parental supervision and attention.. A very sad commentary that a promising and outstanding athlete like this was taken away far too soon by the culture our society has evolved into, RIP young man.

Khal Spencer

A rash and impulsive act puts one kid in the ground and another, most likely, in The Big House. There is a reason for adult supervision.

Annie Oakley

In my opinion there are way too many kids playing violent video games. Shooting and carnage is a common thread and in a lot of those games.

Peter Komis

I am utterly heartbroken about this tragic loss. Gun violence is killing America. What the unimaginable f*** was a 16 year old doing with a gun? What has happened to American society?

HRH Prince Michael Jauregui

"Woe to arms manufacturers, large and small. The blood of our sons and daughters, past and present, soaks their hands." - The Declaration of 2008

Stephen Hauf

Amen

Mona Mayes

While it is sad that this young man lost his life, he shouldn't have been out. Besides being too young, no one should be attending any events with Covid-19 still being a serious issue in our state.

Bill Cass

Really? What an awful thing to say.

Kelly McReynolds

This is an incredibly insensitive comment at this time

Khal Spencer

Spot on comment. We can all grieve, but unless we change the behavior, this will keep happening.

Andrew Lucero

What a tragedy! So much promise and potential. So much talent. Such a senseless waste of life. I am sickened and saddened by this... My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family.

Pam Walker

So sad. I hope they find a suspect soon and definitely give a reason why this happened. Prayers for family and friends.

Cynthia Fulreader

Deepest condolences to all who knew him, and especially to his heartbroken family. Unbelievably sad... I am in shock. What a tragedy for New Mexico.

Stefanie Beninato

So sorry to hear about this student/athlete's death/

The story however is confusing. Was he a high school senior? or a college senior at 18? Why would UNM give him a scholarship if he was still in HS?

DeeDee Downs

He was reclassified as a HS Senior so he could play as a UNM Freshman this Fall. Utterly senseless. Horrifically tragic. Incredibly sad...

ulysses mcgill

You know what is confusing...is why you feel the need to comment on EVERYTHING. In this case you have missed the entire point...which is a young man with a bright future lost his life too soon. Rest In Peace JB

Cynthia Paxton

My thoughts exactly. Thank you.

Stefanie Beninato

DUH In case you didn't get it, I expressed condolences at the loss of this talented student athlete. The story was poorly written. A little crabby, huh, ulysses of JB? Thanks for your attempt at clarification DeeDee. Reclassification sounds like a mistake was made--graduating early by taking extra classes as explained in this story clarified the term for me.

Bill Cass

Universities offer scholarships to high school players all the time. Is this really a question?

Stefanie Beninato

My question which has been beaten to death was how could a high school senior be attending UNM on scholarship. The reclassification term might have meant something to those who use this process but had little value. Too much attention for a request for clarification.

Kelly McReynolds

What is your obsession with negativity and constantly criticizing this paper? You seem to always take issue with something. Why continue to subscribe?

Also, in very poor taste to leave such a comment on this tragic article.

HRH Prince Michael Jauregui

You make some valid points. Still, -after decades- I must sadly advise: It's not the Truth Industry, it's the Newspaper Industry - above all, selling newspapers.

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