Star teenage basketball player shot dead at New Mexico party – the fourth student killed in two months

Justin Vallejo
·3-min read
Twitter / Lobo Basketball
Twitter / Lobo Basketball

A star basketballer ranked among the country's top 100 high school players has been shot dead, becoming the fourth student killed in New Mexico in the past two months.

FeDonta Mikel White Jr, known as JB White, 18, was shot after a fight at a party turned deadly in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the Santa Fe Sherriff's Department.

Police arrested 16-year-old Estevan Mateo Montoya on charges including first-degree murder after he allegedly fled the scene in Chupadero, about 80 miles northeast of Albuquerque.

Mr White, ranked at 100 by ESPN.com and 93 by Rivals.com for the class of 2021, was expected to graduate Santa Fe High School early to join the University of New Mexico basketball program for the 2020-21 season.

"He was an extremely talented student-athlete and we were looking forward to him joining the Lobo family," Lobo basketball said in a tweet following his death.

While his family requested privacy to focus on seeking justice, a GoFundMe page to help with their funeral expenses raised more than $20,000 its first day.

Mr White had reportedly committed to the Lobos after gaining attention from Oregon State, Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas Tech and Texas Christian on the back of his performances with Santa Fe High School, which he led to state playoffs for two consecutive seasons.

Last season, he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, with Santa Fe High principal Carl Marano saying he was a talented young man "who touched so many people in such a positive manner".

"I will always remember his infectious smile and the love he had for the Santa Fe High family," Mr Marano said in a statement.

The six-foot-eight teenager was known for his dunks, and that talent was seen in his last tweet on Wednesday that showed him dunking over two friends at a local basketball court.

His death comes after three other students or recent graduates were reportedly killed in New Mexico since 5 June, when Aiko Perez, a graduate of the Academy at Larragoite, was stabbed by a friend allegedly under the influence of LSD.

A month later on 6 July, Las Vegas Robertson High School student Adelina Tafoya, 16, was shot when two men allegedly fired on her car in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Ivan Armando Perez Chumacero, a 17-year-old senior at Capital High School, meanwhile, was shot and killed during a fight in the parking lot of an apartment complex on 17 July.

The Sheriff's office said Mr Montoya remains in custody at the Santa Fe County Juvenile Detention Centre and is facing charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a handgun and negligent use of a deadly weapon in the death of Mr White.