Los Lunas High School student Kaedence Duke, 18, of El Cerro, faces multiple charges after a handgun and other contraband was found in her backpack on Wednesday, March 8.

Kaedence Duke
Arrested and charged

Gabriel Abeyta, 19, of Rio Communities, is charged with one count of reckless driving after helping Duke flee from LLHS school resource officers. He is not a student at the high school.

Duke is charged with unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school property, a fourth-degree felony; as well as resisting, evading or obstructing a officer, possession of cannabis in a restricted area and minor of possession of alcohol, all misdemeanors.

Both were arrested on March 8 and booked into the Valencia County Detention Center. They were released on their own recognizance on Thursday, March 9.

Gabriel Abeyta
Arrested and charged

Duke’s case is assigned to Los Lunas Magistrate Deseri Sichler and Abeyta’s to Los Lunas Magistrate Miles Tafoya.

Duke will make her first court appearance at 9 a.m., Wednesday, March 29. A first appearance for Abeyta had not been set as of Tuesday, March 14.

Shortly after 10 a.m., last Wednesday, Los Lunas schools resource officer Mike Sprunk was sent to the west parking lot at LLHS on Emilio Lopez Road in regards to a student in a nonstudent vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint and probable cause statement, Sprunk found Abeyta and Duke sitting in Abeyta’s silver 2006 Toyota sedan.

The SRO asked Duke why she was in the car and she told him she was “ditching class” and going to leave campus soon. Sprunk told Abeyta to leave the campus and told Duke he was going to escort her into the building to speak with a LLHS site administrator.

According to the complaint, the girl tried to leave her backpack in the car, which Sprunk felt was suspicious and raised concerns about contraband in the bag.

He took Duke to the office of LLHS Assistant Principal Regina Lucero, who searched the bag finding a grinder with marijuana in it, a mostly-empty bottle of whiskey and what was described in the court document as a “Mossberg International 715P .22-caliber LR AR-type pistol … with a magazine inserted” containing six rounds total.

When Sprunk looked into the backpack after Lucero said there was a gun in the bag, Duke ran out of the office and building. The officer radioed for assistance from a second SRO, Douglas Walton, who chased Duke on foot.

Duke reportedly climbed the west fence and got into Abeyta’s car, which was waiting on Emilio Lopez Road.

An advisory was put out to local law enforcement with a description of the car. A short time later, the car was pulled over by Los Lunas Police Department officers after Abeyta was observed passing a vehicle “in an aggressive manner” on Los Lentes Road. Duke was in the vehicle with Abeyta.

According to the most recent LLS Student Behavior Handbook, any student who violates the district’s weapons policy due to possession of a firearm shall be expelled from school for no less than one year.

The handbook states this penalty is in compliance with the Federal Gun Free Schools Act, and can be modified by the superintendent or board of education in “appropriate cases at their discretion.”

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.