Authorities investigating NM school shooter's online activity

The gunman allegedly had an obsession with school shootings and school shooters and posted about threats of violence online

By Joshua Kellogg
The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.

FARMINGTON, N.M. — Law enforcement is investigating the online activities of the Aztec High School shooter, who was the focus of an article published online today about racist and violent posts the shooter may be linked to on websites and internet forums.

The website The Daily Beast posted an article about the shooter's alleged obsession with school shootings and school shooters along with posts about threats of violence.

Aztec High School students and area residents gather for a candlelight vigil in Aztec, N.M., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, after a shooting at the high school. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Aztec High School students and area residents gather for a candlelight vigil in Aztec, N.M., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, after a shooting at the high school. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

The FBI and the San Juan County Sheriff's office are saying little about the posts as the investigation continues.

The article reports William Atchison visited and posted on multiple websites and forums, including the software distribution platform Steam and the forum for a computer game called Blockland.

He reportedly used several usernames on the websites and made usernames referencing other school shooters, according to the article.

The Daily Times has received anonymous e-mails with links to online posts attributed to the shooter, but has not yet verified the authenticity of the posts.

During a Dec. 8 press conference, FBI agent Terry Wade said agents spoke with the shooter as part of an investigation in 2016.

A person had reported Atchison wrote on an online gaming site asking about cheap assault rifles for a mass shooting, according to the Daily Times archives.

The investigation ended after the FBI did not find evidence of a crime having been committed and found that no firearms were in his possession. At a Dec. 8 press conference officials confirmed that he eventually legally purchased the pistol he used to commit his crimes.

Senior Casey Marquez and junior Francisco "Paco" Fernandez were shot and killed on Dec. 7 in Aztec High School before the shooter killed himself.

Captain Brice Current of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office told The Daily Times their office and the FBI are investigating the shooter's online activity. He also stressed that it is still very early in the multi-agency investigation.

Part of the investigation will be examining a computer taken from the shooter's residence for evidence, Current said.

The sheriff's office, the FBI and New Mexico State Police are collaborating on the investigation.

Investigators are planning to interview people in the United States and internationally who contacted or spoke online with the shooter, Current said.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said the agency is assisting the sheriff's office and state police with the case and declined to comment on the investigation.

A spokeswoman for state police referred all questions about the investigation to the sheriff's office.

The sheriff's office is also investigating suspicious posts about the shooting on social media, Current said.

Social media posts made by students on the day of the shooting were investigated and the sheriff's office found none of them were valid, according to Current.

Current said the sheriff's office is encouraging community members to take a screen capture of suspicious social media messages or posts related to the shooting and include the username of the person who wrote the post or sent the message.

Anyone with information about suspicious social media posts or messages in connection to the shooting is asked to call nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622.

©2017 The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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