Former NMSU fraternity member sentenced in hazing shooting case | KOB 4
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Former NMSU fraternity member sentenced in hazing shooting case

Nathan O'Neal
Updated: October 09, 2020 10:13 PM
Created: October 09, 2020 06:49 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A former New Mexico State University fraternity member who shot another student during a hazing ritual last year was sentenced in a virtual court hearing Friday. 

Miguel Altamirano, 22, pleaded ‘no contest’ to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and negligent use of a deadly weapon while intoxicated. 

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“It’s troubling… and it goes beyond proper gun safety. It can be deadly and fortunately that’s not the case,” said Judge Steven Blankinship before handing down an 18-month suspended sentence. 

“Suspension of a sentence is an act of leniency of the court and he's not going to prison in this case,” said Judge Blankinship.

HAZING WITH A GUN 

In November 2019, Altamirano shot Jonathan Sillas in the leg at a campground in Cloudcroft during a hazing ritual for the Kappa Sigma fraternity. 

“I expected a little bit of hazing. I didn’t think they were going to hurt us,” said Sillas two months after he was hospitalized. 

“I did not expect a gun to be there,” said Sillas. 

Evidence photos obtained by KOB 4 Investigates show the aftermath. A campground nearly 100 miles away from NMSU’s campus was littered with empty beer cans, traces of blood and a handgun. 

During an interrogation with investigators, Altamirano said he didn’t know the gun was loaded when he pulled the trigger. 

Investigator: Was this somewhat like a hazing deal? Is that what that was? 
Altamirano: Yeah, I mean that’s the only way to put it. I mean, it’s the only way – it was just meant to scare him, not harm him.

THE FALLOUT 

An internal investigation by NMSU found even more shocking behavior involving Kappa Sigma – including tackling pledges, underage drinking and putting a gun to students’ heads as an act of loyalty. 

“I’m pretty sure just about everyone else got the gun put on them,” said Sillas.

As a result, NMSU revoked Kappa Sigma’s charter, Altamirano was expelled and now nearly a year later, a judge gave him an 18-month suspended sentence. 

Before his sentencing, Altamirano apologized to the victim: 

“I know words can’t make up for what I did but I hope that one day he’ll be able to forgive me,” said Altamirano, adding later: “I’m young and it was a dumb mistake and I don’t want it to be the defining moment of my life.” 

The court ordered Altamirano to be placed on probation -- so he can't have a gun and he can't use or be around alcohol. 


 
 


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