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Investigate Killings Of Four In Bowling Alley

February 12, 1990 GMT

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) _ Police hunting the killers who shot three children and an adult to death and wounded three other people at a bowling alley said Sunday they plan to share composite drawings of two men with Mexican authorities.

″We have information right now there may be a possible individual from Mexico who has done something like this,″ said police Capt. Fred Rubio. Las Cruces is 45 miles north of the Mexican border.

Within an hour of the shootings Saturday morning, police set up 10 roadblocks around Las Cruces, but no arrests resulted and the barriers were taken down by evening, Rubio said.

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Teams of officers were checking out about 100 pieces of information telephoned to Las Cruces police from other law enforcement agencies and the public, he said.

″Most of the leads we have followed and looked into have not panned out,″ he said.

Police said two men walked into the Las Cruces Bowl on Saturday, herded seven people, including four children, into an office in the front of the building; made them lie on the floor and shot them in the backs of their heads. The men then set fire to the office in an effort to cover up the crime, police said.

″The owner’s daughter had opened the safe and was counting the money when all this happened,″ said police Sgt. Phil George.

Rubio said it appeared the motive was robbery and that money was missing. He did not disclose the amount.

He said the seven victims were the only people in the bowling alley at the time and the robbers apparently ″decided to rid themselves of any witnesses.″

No neighbors interviewed Saturday heard the shots, but they said their dogs started barking around 7:30 a.m.

One of the victims called police around 8:30 a.m. from the smoldering office.

″She was crying and hysterical when she called,″ said George, who was the first officer on the scene.

″I’ve never been involved in a case so gruesome,″ George said. ″One of the survivors was moaning and groaning, so I went to her and we started getting them out of the office.″

Firefighters helped move the dead and wounded from the flames.

Authorities said junior league games for youngsters had been scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

″If there had been any more people, I’m sure they would have been shot,″ Rubio said.

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Helicopters and planes from the U.S. Customs Service, Army and Border Patrol assisted in the search for the two men reported by witnesses to be driving a tan or green van or utility vehicle.

The bowling alley, which also has a restaurant and bar, video games and pinball machines, is in a mixed commercial and residential area in this city of 55,000 people. The building is on a corner of an intersection with a large parking lot around it and a vacant lot on one side.

The wounded - two adults and a 12-year-old - originally were in critical condition at Memorial General Hospital, but two of the victims’ conditions were upgraded Sunday afternoon to serious and the third was listed in good condition, police said. Police would not release any other details.

Police Lt. Jerry Fariss said Sunday he had spoken with two of the survivors. ″One of them was able to give a description that tends to match the one we’ve got,″ he said.

Rubio said shooting children so young ″doesn’t make any damn sense. These people are just coldblooded people.″

″It’s not the city it was when I used to roam the streets,″ he said. There were two homicides in Las Cruces in all of 1989 and six so far this year, according to Rubio.

″Everybody’s in shock around here. I told my husband I want to move from here,″ said neighbor Bobbi Avalos. ″I don’t think I could ever go in there (bowling alley) again.″

The dead were identified as bowling alley employee Steve Teran, 26, daughter Valerie Teran, 2, stepdaughter Paula Holguin, 6, and Amy Houser, 13.

Teran’s cousin, Larry Alvarez, said Audrey Teran, Steve’s wife and the mother of Valerie and Paula, was at work elsewhere at the time of the shootings.

″She’s back home with her mother,″ Alvarez said Sunday. ″They took her back home (to Silver City) last night.″

Alvarez said Teran, also of Silver City in southwest New Mexico, had worked at the bowling alley two years and did a variety of jobs.

″There is a desperate need for justice here,″ Alvarez said. ″I don’t see how anybody can shoot children.″