Teen slain, 3 hurt in shooting

Former Española basketball player appeared in Lujan Grisham campaign ad

By Tripp Stelnicki and Sami Edge
tstelnicki@sfnewmexican.com, sedge@sfnewmexican.com
Posted 10/8/18

His coaches called him hardworking and responsible. A gubernatorial candidate said he was remarkable. And now, he is gone.

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Teen slain, 3 hurt in shooting

Former Española basketball player appeared in Lujan Grisham campaign ad


His high school basketball teammates called him "Space Jam Cam." His coaches called him hardworking and responsible. A gubernatorial candidate said he was remarkable.

And now, he is gone.

Eighteen-year-old Cameron Martinez of Española was killed late Thursday night in a shooting near Ohkay Hotel Casino that left three people wounded and a community reeling, stunned by how a young man with promise could be taken in an instant.

New Mexico State Police officers were called to an area near the casino around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, they said in a news release. They found Martinez's body and the other shooting victims in a blue Subaru WRX in the northbound lanes of N.M. 68.

The three wounded victims, two females and a male, were taken to nearby hospitals for medical treatment and are expected to survive, state police said. It was unclear what led to the violence, who was responsible or details of the victims' injuries.

As of Friday afternoon, state police had not made any arrests.

Family, friends and mentors are mourning the loss of Martinez, a 2018 graduate of Española Valley High School who had played basketball for the Sundevils.

"He conducted himself with great integrity," Española basketball coach James Branch said. "He was a team-first kind of guy and accepted his role. What makes this really sad is that he's one of those guys you ask, 'Why him?' "

Martinez was one of the actors featured in a September television advertisement for Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic nominee for governor. He ended up in the commercial because both he and his parents are supporters of Lujan Grisham, the campaign said.

In the 30-second television spot, Martinez, who is seen from behind, is one of a few actors who play the role of Joshua, a boy growing up in Northern New Mexico. The boy is depicted running after a school bus, riding a bicycle and skateboarding.

"What kinds of schools will [Joshua] go to?" Lujan Grisham asks in the ad. "As he grows older, what will his dreams become? Will he go to college or technical school -- or in a different direction, with an uncertain future?"

In a statement, Lujan Grisham said she was grieving.

"My heart broke when I heard about the murder of Cameron Martinez," she said. "My prayers are with his parents, Urban and Valerie, his family and the entire community of Española. This unthinkable tragedy took place just as he began a new job at Los Alamos National Labs and while he was working hard for change in his community.

"He was a remarkable young man who touched countless lives and will not be forgotten."

A spokesman for Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed Martinez had begun a student program at the lab that functioned much like a paid internship. Martinez was working in information technology, the spokesman said.

Martinez's former teammates on the Española Valley basketball team said "Space Jam Cam" was a team leader and a warm, welcoming individual.

"He was one of those guys that never quit," said Azaziah Salazar, a teammate and member of Martinez's graduating class. "He was a hustler. He was all over the court."

"He always put a smile on all of our faces," Salazar added. "He was very outgoing. I've never seen that kid cry."

Christian Fernandez, another teammate, recalled rooming with Martinez when the Sundevils made the trip to Albuquerque for the state tournament in 2016.

The Sundevils won the 5A title, riding a late rally to a 36-34 victory over Capital.

As a sophomore, Martinez acted as team manager, Fernandez said, and he was on the active roster his junior and senior seasons.

"At practices, he was always going harder than everyone else -- harder than he needed to," Fernandez said. "He was just a hardworking kid."

On Facebook, a page for Española schools updates and the Española Valley Sports page shared photos of Martinez playing basketball and expressed condolences to his family.

"If you ever crossed paths with Cameron Martinez, consider yourself blessed," an administrator wrote on the Española Valley Sports Facebook page. "He was without a doubt one of the most loving, caring and beautiful souls on earth."

Martinez's family could not immediately be reached for comment.

The New Mexican's Elayne Lowe and James Barron contributed to this report.


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