What went wrong in Farmington?

Farmington is a city of 45,000 in Northwestern New Mexico, the closest large city (well, in TPOL’s eyes) to the famed Four Corners, and the largest city in/near the Navajo Nation’s “Big Rez” and several other AmerInd tribes. Unlike the major New Mexico cities (Albuquerque and Santa Fe) it is generally conservative and with a mixed economy based on oil and gas, irrigated farming, ranching, and formerly coal mining and electrical power production. It has more in common with Texan cities

On Monday the 15th, in broad daylight, an unidentified 18-year-old starting walking up Dustin Street in an older residential area just north of downtown, apparently shooting at random at cars and houses. He killed three people and wounded six, including two responding police officers (one local, one State) who responded and killed him.

We here at The Price of Liberty are familiar with Farmington and San Juan County, with friends and clients in the area. (None that we know of were involved directly, though we called to make sure.)

This incident surprises us for several reasons. First, Farmington is a hard-working town, and certainly not a core urban area with all the problems. It is a very mixed-race/cultural area: Anglo, Navajo, Apache, Ute, Hispanic (both New Mexican and Mexican) and a spattering of black and various others. It is also, like most western (and Texan) towns and cities, heavily armed. One of the reasons is that Farmington, according to CityData, has one of the highest crime rates both in New Mexico and the States, “The 2020 crime rate in Farmington, NM is 522[per 100,000 population] (City-Data.com crime index), which is 2.0 times greater than the U.S. average. It was higher than in 97.2% U.S. cities. The 2020 Farmington crime rate fell by 13% compared to 2019. The number of homicides stood at 1 – a decrease of 3 compared to 2019. In the last 5 years [2016-2020] Farmington has seen rise of violent crime and decreasing property crime.”

(There is no more recent hard data than 2020, but reports that crime rates have decreased significantly in the last three years. And remember that the actual number of crimes (violent and property) are lower than the ratings, since the City only has 45,000 people and the numbers are calculated per 100,000 people. And for New Mexico, Farmington is actually “safer” than many cities, such as Albuquerque, Portales, and Gallup.)

Why? There are many possible reasons, including the diversity of the community, and its magnetic attraction to far too many “products” of reservation life: even on the tightly-knit Navajo and Apache clans. Although several hundred miles north of the border with Mexico, Farmington is in strongly-Hispanic (ethnic, cultural, governmental) New Mexico. The attitudes of Iberia are a strong thread. The oil and gas industry is important and long associated with more crime and violence.

But the crime rate alone does not account for things like this, and in fact, mitigates against it. New Mexico supposedly is #4 in the nation for gun ownership, and Farmington is almost certainly well above the state average. Open carry and concealed carry are common. There are many gun shops in the city and nearby. People are aware that there is a need to defend themselves.

Farmington is on and near major drug trafficking routes into Colorado, Utah, and even the Pacific Northwest. Combined with the petroleum and mining industries, there is a strong local market as well.

Economically, Farmington is not doing well: the current Empress of New Mexico has made it clear that she seeks to destroy the coal, oil, and gas industries in New Mexico. The closure of several local mines and one of the States’ largest coal-fired powerplants has hit the area hard. The reaction of the Navajo Nation and other tribes to the beer flu – (and New Mexico’s version of the Pandemic Panic and Lockdown) – also damaged economic opportunity. Was despair a factor?

While Farmington’s municipal government may be less corrupt than most in NM (a very low bar), it still has it problems. And its police force is, in the eyes of many, a joke: the last time it was in regional and national news was when a police assault team went to the WRONG house. When the homeowner came to the door with a gun in response to what seemed to be an attempt to break in. They shot him down and killed him in cold blood and shot his wife.

Even in a residential area, we here at TPOL would have expected multiple residents to go outside armed to deal with the problem – and dispatch the killer to Judgement quickly. But this did not happen. The police seem to have responded quickly, and were at least willing to take casualties (2 officers were wounded, although we do not know the details yet). And we would have expected multiple people to report a heavily-armed man; the killer was reported to be carrying and using three guns, including a longarm. Was the Farmington PD recent track record a cause of fear for those who might otherwise have reported and responded?

But despite these failings, it is the motive of the now-dead killer that seems to be the biggest failure of Farmington. Assuming the 18-year-old is local and a product of local schools and society, there is something that went seriously wrong to cause this insane act. Any of the factors we have touched on here might be a key one. This man appears to have been another “Gen-Z nihilist” in the words of one of TPOL’s people on hearing of this.

We cannot at this time know what set off this killer. And as Mama Liberty was fond of pointing out, we might never know such important things because we are goring the powers-that-be. But is it not reasonable to blame the people, not just the government, of this city for failing to deal with the causes of crime and madness?

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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2 Responses to What went wrong in Farmington?

  1. Grumpy51 says:

    Too many people are quick to label “insane” as the character of the shooter. The US population is loathe to utter the word “evil”.

    This was an evil act, carried out by evil.


    • TPOL Nathan says:

      It is true that many kinds of evil disguise themselves as insanity – or are mistaken for it. At the same time, while not all insane people are evil, it is clear that many are. Many evil deeds are insane to anyone who is (a) sane or (b) godly. however imperfect we are.


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