NMSU basketball player involved in fatal shooting suspended from team

Dec. 5—New Mexico State Aggie basketball player Mike Peake has been suspended indefinitely for his involvement in the Nov. 19 fatal shooting on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque.

"Mike Peake is indefinitely suspended from basketball activities," NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia said, referring specifically to the 21-year-old power forward's status on the team, but not as a student at NMSU. "There is a university discipline process that is under a more protected category that can't really be (commented on) to the general public."

Until Monday, NMSU had not spoken publicly about any specific discipline for Peake related to the shooting, his sneaking out of the team's hotel room the morning of the UNM game or his carrying a gun on a school-sponsored trip.

"If you want to criticize, the timing, then I will take that criticism," Moccia said. "However, while I can't get into the details, while a student athlete who has been here for years (Peake played for the Aggies in the 2021-22 season as well), is in the hospital with multiple procedures, I did not feel that that was the appropriate time to make that announcement."

Brandon Travis, a 19-year-old UNM student, was killed and Peake was injured in the shooting on UNM's campus on the day the annual NMSU/UNM rivalry basketball game was to be played in the Pit.

Police reports indicate Peake, 21, was lured to the UNM campus around 3 a.m. by four UNM students. Three of them wanted to attack him as payback for his being one of several people, including two Aggie basketball players and one UTEP basketball player, seen on video fighting Travis at an Oct. 15 UNM/NMSU football game in Las Cruces.

Citing review of video surveillance camera footage, New Mexico State Police reports indicate Travis first fired at Peake, who then used a gun he had brought with him to return fire. Travis died at the scene while Peake was hospitalized with at least one gunshot wound to his leg and has had at least three surgeries since.

Two of the three surviving UNM students police say played a part in the plot to get Peake to campus have been arrested and charged with crimes while investigators have not commented when asked about the third.

As with NMSU, UNM is restricted on discussing specific student discipline matters until final decisions have been made and any appeals have been exhausted.

State Police have told the Journal two guns, and only two guns, were used in the shooting and both have been recovered, but a spokesman would not specify what types of guns were used, who they belonged to or where and when they were recovered — on the scene or otherwise.

Moccia declined to say when he told Peake about the indefinite suspension or if he knew Peake's current condition after the surgeries.

The Journal did contact Peake through one of his social media accounts, but he has not commented on the matter.

Four days after the shooting, Moccia confirmed Peake was still on the team, but said he would allow his coaches to discuss handling of player discipline as it pertained to being on the team.

First-year NMSU men's basketball coach Greg Heiar was not made available to talk to media until Nov. 29 — 10 days after the shooting and after the team played two games in Las Vegas, Nev. When he did talk, he expressed remorse for Travis and his family, said he took responsibility for the actions of multiple players who snuck out of the hotel on that morning of the game and said Peake was still on the team and as a part of the Aggies family, they needed to be there to help support Peake however they could.

NMSU on Monday night played its fourth game since the shooting — the Nov. 19 rivalry game in Albuquerque and Saturday's UNM game in Las Cruces were both canceled — and Peake has not been with the team since.

According to teammates, however, he did follow their game last Wednesday from his hospital bed, and even called teammates at halftime of the game. Senior guard Xavier Pinson said in a postgame media session that Peake had called teammates at halftime and said to "keep our foot on their neck," as the Aggies had a big lead at that time on the UTEP Miners.

Moccia the next day said that while players are certainly allowed to talk with one another, he didn't realize it had happened during the game and would have preferred that quote not have been used.

Peake has been active on social media since the shooting, thanking well-wishers for their support, criticizing some fans who were critical of his actions and even taking the time to comment on his hopes to be playing with the Aggies next year alongside former Lobo player Jay Allen-Tovar, who last week posted on Instagram the five teams he is deciding on as a transfer destination, including NMSU.

In addition to canceling both of this season's men's basketball rivalry games, both UNM and NMSU have added metal detectors to entrances of games at both arenas — the Pan American Center in Las Cruces and the Pit in Albuquerque. The first game utilizing the metal detectors at the Pit will be Tuesday night when the Lobos men's team plays Western New Mexico University at 7 p.m. and at Wednesday's women's game against Abilene Christian.

The UNM women's team hosts NMSU on Sunday in the Pit at 2 p.m.