Here we go again.

A new year, another needless tragedy.

The Las Vegas, N.M., community is reeling from the New Year’s Eve shooting death of 17-year-old Joshua Vigil, a West Las Vegas football player. His teammate, 18-year-old Joaquin Sanchez, is facing charges in the incident.

Yet, it sure feels like this is more the norm than an anomaly.

The incident is another stark reminder of the senseless violence that seems to have enveloped the Northern New Mexico community over the past couple of years. We abhor these acts, but they do not seem to stop.

The tragedy unfolding in the Meadow City has an eerily similar tone to what Santa Fe dealt with not more than 17 months ago when Santa Fe High star basketball player Fedonta “JB” White was gunned down at a party.

Many people who were close to White will never recover from his passing. Sadly, that will be the case for the families of both Dons players, teammates and coaches, as well as the Las Vegas community as a whole.

The greater issue, though, is gun violence. It’s not new to New Mexico and the North, but it seems the number of cases involving teenagers and guns have accelerated over the past two years — as if they are linked to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you read Monday’s New Mexican, you no doubt read statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings from more than 7,500 law enforcement, government, media and commercial agencies. In 2020, the United States experienced 1,375 gun violence deaths among those 17 years old and younger. As of October 2021, gun violence already killed nearly 1,180 people 17 and under.

Breaking it down, that’s a monthly average of more than 100 gun-related deaths of teens. One death is truly too many, but when you read the stories about these incidents, it’s heartbreaking.

What’s more, it just amplifies this sense of helplessness at stopping it. Perhaps we can’t. But we have to try.

If anything, these recent deaths simply mimic the overall sense of anger and frustration that is percolating nationally. It’s no surprise when you see the rise of murders in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and the amount of violent attacks that we read, see or hear about since the pandemic began.

In reading the narrative of how the incident in Ribera occurred, it’s clear there was a level of irrational anger — mixed with alcohol consumption — that ratcheted the actions taken to another, irreversible level.

Anger is a dangerous emotion, because it clouds our better judgment. If anything, we seem to be eating up anger up like kids at a candy store. Except, we all know how unhealthy it is to live on sugar alone — much like it is unhealthy to live off anger and contempt.

The only way to get out of this vicious cycle is to change our habits. It starts with something as simple as this: Take a step back and breathe.

We’ve been too quick to act without thinking for the past two years, and thoughtless acts can have tragic consequences.

The most drastic of them all is that we keep acting without thinking.

Contact sports writer James Barron at

(1) comment

Sco Bo

A tragically sad but well-stated piece, James. More people should read the sports section.

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