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Letter on Tragic Shooting at Washington Middle School

Posted August 13, 2021, 5:45 PM. Updated December 7, 2021, 7:57 AM.

From APS Superintendent Scott Elder and Washington Principal Modesta Hernandez

Carta del Superintendente Elder y de la Directora Hernández acerca del trágico tiroteo en la Escuela Secundaria Washington 

Dear Washington Middle School Families,

With great sadness, I must inform you of a shooting that occurred on the Washington Middle School campus today that resulted in the death of one of our students and the arrest of another. This was an isolated incident that occurred outside the school building during lunch. No other students or staff were physically harmed, but many of us are hurting.

I want to thank our courageous school staff who rushed our students to safety. I want to commend students who bravely followed directions, helping to keep the situation under control. I appreciate our families who came to the school to take their children home safely. And I want to thank all of the APS and APD police officers who rushed to our campus to assure the safety of our students and staff, especially our own school resource officer, who immediately deescalated the situation and kept everyone else from harm. 

Because this is an active investigation, there are still a lot of questions we can’t answer. If your child has information about the incident and wants to talk to the police, you can call (505) 242-COPS. They also have the option of talking to a teacher, counselor, or another trusted adult at school.

We are canceling classes on Monday, but grief counselors will be at school from 10 a.m. to noon. Parents will need to accompany students and stay with them the whole time. Grief counselors will remain on campus throughout the week. We also will have an increased police presence. We want everyone to feel safe and supported. 

A shooting at a school and the loss of a schoolmate are terrible and traumatic events for students, families, and the community. As a parent or guardian, you may want to talk to your child about their feelings. One of the most helpful things you can do is listen. If your child wants to talk, answer questions simply and honestly. Be prepared to answer the same questions repeatedly.

Tragedies such as these affect each person in different ways. How children react depends on many factors including their age, prior experiences, and relationship with those involved.

Your child may exhibit many of the following responses:

  • Appear unaffected
  • Ask questions about the event repeatedly
  • Be angry or aggressive
  • Be withdrawn or moody
  • Be sad or depressed
  • Become afraid
  • Have difficulty sleeping or eating

There are many options available to people who need help. One valuable resource to support you or your child is the New Mexico Crisis Line staffed around the clock by licensed therapists. You can call them any time at (855) 662-7474 or visit their New Mexico Crisis Line website

I know you join me in extending our thoughts and prayers to everyone grieving and everyone shaken by this horrible incident. We will continue to make safety a priority at Washington Middle School, doing everything we can to ensure our students feel comfortable and secure on campus. 


Superintendent Scott Elder

Principal Modesta Hernandez