LAS CRUCES, NM – Two men armed with revolvers walked into the bowling alley at 8:15 a.m. and told the seven patrons and employees to sit on the floor, took $4,000 in cash from the safe and then shot them one by one execution style, in the head.
Twenty years have come and gone, but the pain and sorrow of the shootings in Las Cruces Bowl will last a lifetime for three survivors and a peaceful community shocked by the violence.
In 1989 there were two murders in this border town of 75,000 and just a few months into 1990, the murder rate had quadrupled in one day.
Four of the seven people were killed. Of the four killed, three of them were all from a single family. The Teran family happened to walk into the bowling alley when the robbery was going on. Steve 26, and his two young daughters Paula 6, and Valerie 2 never made it out of the bowling alley.
“We’re looking to justify what was done on that day twenty years ago to my nieces they are the ones who deserve it. They didn’t deserve to be killed. There was no way they could stop this robbery or impede it in anyway,” Anthony Teran said.
The case has gone unsolved for twenty years. Anthony and Audrey Teran are the ones who have been doing the most in trying to get justice for their family. Anthony is Steve’s younger brother and Audrey was the wife and mother of the deceased.
“The first five years, the family locked itself in a hole to try and deal with this. After a while when there was no news reports or anything new coming out, I started going and trying to get things going through the press. That’s started being my outlet on how to deal with this,” Anthony Teran said.
Charlie Minn, the director of A Nightmare in Las Cruces, a documentary film he made about the Bowling Massacre, first heard about the case when it was first shown on Unsolved Mysteries. The brutality and inhumane acts from the crime stuck with him over the years.
Minn believes that between Las Cruces, El Paso, and Juarez, which together have two million residents someone has to know something. “This documentary is to revive and resuscitate the worst crime in New Mexico history. A twenty-year case that has been forgotten about and that has really faded into oblivion,” Minn said.
The Teran’s had been wondering what they were going to do for the twentieth anniversary and were not sure what to do until Minn approached them about making a documentary.
“Charlie came like you said as a blessing. He’s been the best blessing to us and I couldn’t ask for anything more for a twenty-year anniversary. He was definitely sent to us by God,” Audrey Teran said.
What is heartbreaking for the family is that a lot of people do not know about what happened 20 years ago or have forgotten about it. Anthony believes that we are now a violence-ridden society.
“It is sad. That’s the way today’s society is. Everything that you see coming out in the paper you read about and then five minutes later you are on the sports page or in the comics and everything is forgotten about,” Anthony Teran said.
The reason behind the documentary is to bring justice to the families that were involved in this horrific ordeal, Minn said. The country has taken noticed and America’s Most Wanted is coming to Las Cruces to film and air the crime on a future episode.
The people of the local community have come out in full to show support for the film by filling the theater for both Las Cruces showings and El Paso showings as well. No matter what happens, the Terans are not going to stop looking for justice.
“I’m sure I know I would be tired of seeing my face and like I said years ago and like my brother-in-law said the other day, if it takes another 20 years we will be here another 20 years until they get tired and finally break down,” Audrey said.