New Mexico State hiring investigator to probe fatal shooting

Dec 5, 2022, 6:22 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 3:29 pm

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University announced Tuesday that it will hire an external, third-party investigator to review the events surrounding last month’s fatal shooting of a student from a rival school.

NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia said Monday night that Aggies power forward Mike Peake has been suspended indefinitely from the basketball team in connection with the Nov. 19 shooting. He added that neither he nor the school could comment on Peake’s enrollment status as a student.

Peake, 21, has not been charged in the pre-dawn shooting on the University of New Mexico’s campus in Albuquerque hours before the host Lobos were to play the Aggies. That game was canceled along with the Dec. 3 rematch in Las Cruces.

“Mike is suspended from our basketball team until the completion of the university’s investigation and the investigation of the proper authorities,” Moccia said. “When those investigations will be complete, I can’t say.”

NMSU officials said the review of the events surrounding the shooting will be separate from the legal investigation currently being led by New Mexico State Police and will also examine the university’s response in the days following the shooting.

“We will be incredibly transparent during this process,” NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said in a statement. “We owe that to our community and to everyone associated with our university. The firm selected will be encouraged to review any public documents regarding this case and be fully empowered to speak with any NMSU employees, students or other individuals necessary to ensure we fully understand the facts.”

State Police investigators have previously said 19-year-old Brandon Travis conspired with two other UNM students and a teenage girl to lure Peake onto campus.

The subsequent shootout left Travis dead at the scene and Peake hospitalized with a leg wound that has required several surgeries.

A brawl at an Oct. 15 UNM-NMSU football game in Las Cruces was a precursor to the shooting, police said.

First-year NMSU men’s basketball coach Greg Heiar was not made available to talk to media until 10 days after the shooting.

He expressed his condolences for Travis and his family and said he took full responsibility for the actions of multiple players who sneaked out of the hotel on that morning of the game.

But until Monday, NMSU officials had not spoken publicly about any specific discipline for Peake related to the shooting.

“If there is criticism over this decision, I am in a position to take it on myself,” Moccia said. “I’ve known this player for years, and I know what kind of person he is. I didn’t feel a need to rush to judgment. I wanted to give the investigation time to play out before making any decisions.”

Peake, a 6-foot-7 junior from Chicago, played one season at Georgia before transferring to Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. He joined New Mexico State in 2021 and averaged 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds last season, helping the Aggies reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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New Mexico State hiring investigator to probe fatal shooting