New Mexico teen bought AR-style rifle legally before shooting spree, police say

TAOS, New Mexico – The gunman who shot dead three elderly women in the US state of New Mexico this week had legally purchased an assault-style rifle, police said on Tuesday.

The rifle was one of three weapons he used in the rampage.

The suspect had bought the rifle a month after he turned 18, police said.

The shooting spree on Monday morning through a residential area of Farmington, New Mexico, ended when police shot him dead.

The gunman has been publicly identified as 18-year-old Beau Wilson, a student at Farmington High School.

Police said Wilson stalked a 400m stretch of road on foot firing indiscriminately at cars, with some homes also being hit, before police confronted him outside a church, exchanging gunfire with Wilson to halt his advance.

Video footage showed Wilson, dressed in black, pacing around the church driveway holding what appeared to be a handgun with an extended, high-capacity magazine before he was killed.

The minutes-long burst of violence stirred hours of fear as police searched the area to ensure order was restored in the town, a major retail centre and fossil energy hub.

The gunman’s actions “appear to be purely random and had no specific targets or motives that we can identify at this time”, Farmington Deputy Police Chief Kyle Dowdy told a media briefing on Tuesday.

The women slain were identified as Gwendolyn Schofield, 97, and Melody Ivie, 73, a mother and daughter who were struck by gunfire together in their car, and Shirley Voita, 79, who was in a separate car.

Four other people in cars struck by gunfire or shrapnel were wounded, police said, along with two police officers who have since been released from a local hospital.

Wilson was staying at an address in the neighbourhood where the shootings took place.

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