Cordova suffered from depression and had expressed suicidal thoughts. His mother died of cancer in February 1999 and he would subsequently lash out at other students who teased him over it. He lived in Palomas and had previously seen a doctor for mental health problems, but was off his medication.
The day before the murder he showed off bullets to a classmate and told him he was going to be famous for shooting up the school.
Shortly after lunch on Friday November 19, 1999 Cordova shot Tena in the back of the head in the school's lobby. He used a .22 caliber handgun which he took from home. She was rushed to hospital, where she died on November 21. He then threatened school staff and responding police with the gun before giving himself up.
The young killer claimed he wished to commit suicide and only shot Tena when his arm was bumped and the loaded gun went off. Nonetheless, in April 2000 Cordova entered guilty pleas to one count of second-degree murder and eleven counts of aggravated assault. It was thought he was New Mexico's youngest convicted murderer.
He received the maximum sentence for a juvenile: a minimum of two years in prison, with a maximum of being held until his 21st birthday. He could not be charged as an adult as he was under 14.
In December 2003 he was released to his aunt and uncle to live with them in Colorado but was subsequently seen in Palomas and in 2004, when he was 17, federal agents arrested him in Columbus for alleged drug smuggling.
- Boy sent to juvenile prison for school shooting - Billings Gazette
- Teen gets two years for school killing - UPI
- Deming classmate: Accused shooter brandished bullets - Amarillo
- National News Briefs; Girl Shot at School In New Mexico Dies - The New York Times
- Teen Who Killed Classmate in '99 Arrested in Drug Smuggling Case - Albuquerque Journal