Pastor, family: Suspected Clovis shooter was overcoming drug addiction, abusive background | KOB 4
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Pastor, family: Suspected Clovis shooter was overcoming drug addiction, abusive background

Caleb James
August 30, 2017 05:46 AM

CLOVIS, NM -- "They were so-called 'dating,'" said Clovis pastor David Stevens. 

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The Living Word Church of God pastor told KOB on Tuesday that the juvenile accused in Monday's library shooting -- 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett -- had been attending the church and dating his daughter. Stevens suggested Jouett's recent happiness was a newfound reprieve from a difficult, and at times even abusive, childhood.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Clovis Police Chief Douglas Ford confirmed Jouett was the suspected shooter. He faces several charges including first-degree murder after police say he killed two library workers and injured four others.

Ford said Jouett had two handguns on him, but the chief did not disclose the make or model. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive are working with local police to determine the origins of those weapons.

Jouett is currently detained at a juvenile detention center.

Stevens said the teenager accused of going on a shooting rampage had delivered a powerful and tearful testimony to the Clovis congregation -- detailing a difficult life. Stevens said out of respect for Jouett, he would not reveal the details. 

But a close family member of Jouett's who identified himself to KOB on Monday -- and offered details to corroborate his relationship to the accused shooter -- said the teenager struggled with a methamphetamine addiction from the age of 13. 

Stevens confirmed Jouett's meth use and said it was only one of many long and emotional conversations between the two over the three and half month period since the accused shooter had begun attending the pastor's church. 

It was about the same amount of time Stevens said Jouett had been dating his daughter. 

"I'm blown away," Stevens said. "I'm blown away by him snapping and doing something like this. And something had to snap within him. He had all kinds of plans and ideas to help us at the church." 

Stevens said Jouett attended both Sunday morning and Sunday night services at the Clovis congregation on the day before Monday's shooting rampage. 

"He'd come over to the house afterward for about an hour," Stevens said. "And he was fine." 

Stevens said there was no indication Jouett was planning to act out violently. 

"That would have ended his relationship with my daughter immediately," Stevens said. 

The relationship showed no signs of strain, according to Stevens. 

"It was perfect. It was normal," he said. "They laughed together. They had a great relationship." 

But Stevens also acknowledged he was fully aware of Jouett's troubled past. 

"He had a very rough early childhood," Stevens said. "He contemplated suicide. Matter of fact, he carried a suicide note in his pocket and we talked about it."

The close family member who spoke with KOB for nearly an hour Monday night expressed similar shock at the gravity of the attack Jouett is accused of committing. 

The relative told KOB Jouett had been in contact only hours before the shooting and talked about going to the library later that day, without being specific about his intentions. 

On Tuesday, Stevens declined a request from KOB for an on-camera interview. He said his priority was consoling his daughter who is distraught over the incident.

Stevens said Jouett had recently abandoned his regular suicide note. 

"He said, 'you know I have a reason for living,'" Stevens said. "'That's not even in my mind anymore.'" 

KOB Web Producer J.R. Oppenheim contributed to this report.

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Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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