Family and friends remember Sydney Wilson’s life at vigil

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More than a hundred people gathered to remember Syndey Wilson’s life at the exact spot she was killed Monday.

“Everyone should just take a page out of her book and try and be better and softer and kinder and turn this into a place that she would love to be in,” said one of Wilson’s childhood friends.

Attendees shared stories about Wilson’s life, how they were going to celebrate what was supposed to be her 24th birthday, and their frustrations with the ongoing surge of teen gun violence that took Wilson’s life.

“We got to make a change,” said Wilson’s aunt. “We got to work harder with these kids in the society to try to make them know that if they’re troubled and they’re going through a hard time they have support as a community guys, we have to support these kids. That’s what she wants. That’s what she wanted us to do. That’s what she wanted to be.”

Wilson was shot and killed at a gas station near Central and Coors Monday. APD says she was attempting to recover her stolen car when a 13-year-old pulled out a gun and shot her.

Police say the teen suspect, Marcos Barela, turned himself in Wednesday. He appeared in Children’s Court virtually Friday where a judge decided to keep him in custody before his trial. During the hearing, Judge William Parnall expressed his own concerns with the surge in teen gun violence.

“It goes without saying that this is the most serious disturbing case we can deal with, is young people with guns shooting each other or shooting innocent people that are not even involved in any kind of criminal activity,” the judge said.

APD Chief Harold Medina addressed the rise in teen gun violence in early June. He said he’s never seen as many teens armed with firearms before; however, during a press conference Friday, he admitted APD is struggling to address the problem.

“It is very difficult for the Albuquerque police department to go out and enforce individuals who are 13 years old and carrying a firearm,” Chief Medina said.

State lawmakers passed “Bennie’s Law” earlier this year, which increases penalties for adults whose improperly stored weapons are negligently used by children. It’s too early to know if the new law will help decrease teen gun violence cases, but some officials believe access to firearms is only part of the problem.

KOB 4 spoke with community advocates in June who believe there is a widespread lack of conflict resolution skills among teenagers. Chief Medina echoes those concerns Friday morning.

“People can argue and say I’ve taught my kids firearm safety, but did you teach your kids to go through their first breakup? Did you teach your kids to go through their first issue of depression?  Did you teach your kids a certain lot of other things? So, it’s not about firearm safety,” he said.

Chief Medina says APD is looking to expand the Violence Intervention Program at West Mesa High School. That program works to steer teens away from violence before it happens. Medina suggested it may be time to expand the program to middle schools.

The mother of Alana Gamboa, who APD says was killed by teenagers on the Fourth of July, believes the surge of teen gun violence is bigger than APD can solve.

“I think it’s time for us adults to step up and get our grief back because these kids do not earn the control,” she said. “We have the control, and it starts with us. It’s not fair. These kids are too young to be damaging lives.”  

Wilson’s father made a similar plea during Friday night’s vigil.

“What we all need to do is reach out everywhere, support each other, and see what all of us can do to stop this,” he said.