Mentors: Teen shot by police was avid dancer, 'epitome of light'

Created: 06/09/2014 10:38 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

An Espanola police officer shot and killed 16 year-old Victor Villalpando Sunday morning after they say he pointed a gun at two officers.

People who knew Villalpando spoke to KOB Eyewitness News 4 Monday about the teen who they say had his share of struggles, but was trying very hard to be his best.

Nowhere was he better than on his feet, dancing.

"Victor," said Serena Rascon. "He was the epitome of light."

We all have that one thing that makes us want to be our best self.

"I was helping him to develop his technique,  and work on his flexibility," said Rascon. "But mostly I was really just wanting to spend more time with him."

For Villalpando it was dance.

The Moving Arts Dance Company in Espanola is where his mentor Rascon says the 16-year-old was his best self.

The teen police say pointed a gun at an officer before he was shot on Sunday, Rascon says struggled with taking on other people's pain as his own.

"To see those emotions translated into movement, when he was so away from everything that was causing him pain," said Rascon.

Villalpando mentored kids who grew up into mentors themselves -- he was just accepted to the prestigious New Mexico School of the Arts.

But Sunday, Espanola police say someone reported Villalpando acting suspiciously.

When two officers arrived they say he pointed a gun at them.   

One of them fired-- hitting Villalpando.

He died shortly after, and New Mexico State Police are investigating.

"In the deepest core of my heart, Victor is a different person than we're hearing about, and if it's out of denial, that will come forward," said Roger Montoya.

Montoya is the director of Moving Arts, and for Montoya and Rascon, there's so much that doesn't make sense.  

"His true self is not a person that could hold a gun to another person," said Rascon.

On Sunday, KOB spoke to one of Villalpando's friends who said he was the same student who was investigated for making a threat at his charter school in Espanola in January.

KOB has confirmed that through several sources outside of law enforcement.

Police never found any evidence of a credible threat in that case, and no arrests were ever made. 

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