Slain New Mexico students mourned at evening vigil

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Officials update the press on deadly NM high school shooting

Hundreds of people attended a vigil Thursday night in Aztec, N.M., in honor of two students who were slain earlier in the day after an unidentified gunman opened fire inside their high school.

The San Juan Country Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook late Thursday evening to identify the victims as Casey J. Marquez and Francisco I. Fernandez.

Marquez's grandparents spoke to the crowd gathered at Minium Park and said that the young girl would have appreciated all the support, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

“She’d love to see everybody here,” the grandfather said. “She loved everybody. If anybody was down, she was always there to cheer them up.”

Fernandez’s family members wore T-shirts with his photo on them, and reading, "In loving memory of Paco Fernandez," the paper reported.

Vigil attendees lit candles, sang songs and said prayers. Jonathan Dobbs, minister at Aztec Church of Christ, addressed the crowd thanking law enforcement and school staff for their support.

He told the gathering that despite a “hard day,” the Aztec community “will go on,” the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Authorities have released little information on the shooting. It was not clear if the gunman died by suicide or was killed by police. But law enforcement confirmed the shooter was a student at the school.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Friday local time to provide more information.

Aztec is a small oil and gas town of 6,500 people near the Navajo Nation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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