KEY POINTS

  • Miguel Altamirano could face up to three years in prison after allegedly shooting a student during a fraternity event
  • Jonathan Sillas was shot in the leg in a Kappa Sigma initiation last November
  • Altamirano was charged with elony aggravated assault and a petty misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon while intoxicated

A New Mexico State University student could face up to three years in prison should he be convicted of shooting a classmate during a fraternity event.

Miguel Altamirano was charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly shooting Jonathan Sillas in the leg on November 19, said USA Today.

Both Altamirano and Sillas were involved in a Kappa Sigma fraternity initiation held every November, the outlet added.

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity A sign outside the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house at the University of South Carolina. The fraternity chapter was suspended by its national leadership after the death of an 18-year-old member. Photo: The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity

The Otero County Sheriff's Office claimed that Altamirano put a .40-caliber handgun to Sillas' leg “and pulled the trigger.” Altamirano later said that he didn't know the gun was loaded.

Deputies also alleged in the complaint that Altamirano confessed to have been during prior to the incident.

Sillas told ABC News that members of the fraternity pulled him aside and asked him to turn around. The criminal justice did what he told, thinking that he would just be paddled.

“I was just like thinking that they would just hit me with a paddle or something like that. I'm not like too scared about that,” Sillas told KVIA.

Things started to change when Sillas realized that Altamirano had a gun.

“Whenever I turned around, he reaches and he pulled the gun out of the backpack. I wasn't like watching but I heard him click it and then I started freaking out,” he said.

Altamirano's attorney, C.J. McElhinney said that the shooting incident wasn't intentional. Instead, it happened during a time the fraternity members were “joking around.”

The lawyer also pointed that Altamirano never intended to hurt anyone and is “remorseful” that Sillas was shot. He also claimed that case evidence “is consistent with negligent handling of a firearm and not the crime of aggravated assault.”

Incident also prompted school officials to ban Kappa Sigma from the NMSU campus for five years.

The decision came after the dean's office launched its own investigation of the incident. They also found out that the fraternity had other violations.

“Kappa Sigma violated their own fraternity expectations and local chapter bylaws specific to hazing, new member activities, alcohol use, pledging activities, and social events,” said USA Today.

Kappa Sigma Executive Mitchell Wilson said that the fraternity is “unequivocally opposed to any form of hazing” considering that it opposes their core values and Code of Conduct.

“We cannot comment on details of chapter or membership disciplinary proceedings, however, any member found to be in violation of the Fraternity's Code of Conduct will be held accountable,” Wilson said.

Alongside the felony charge, Altamirano is also facing a petty misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon while intoxicated, and is scheduled to appear before the court on February, according to USA Today.