DALLAS (AP) — A man was accused of being a “peeping tom” in the lead up to a shooting that ended with him and three of his adult grandsons being killed at a toddler’s birthday party in South Texas, according to court documents released Tuesday.
The shooting happened Saturday at a child’s first birthday party in Taft, located 12 miles north of Corpus Christi. A fifth man was wounded in the shooting.
Ronnie Rodriguez Sr. was arrested Tuesday in connection with the shooting. His son, Ronnie Rodriguez Jr., was previously apprehended.
An affidavit signed by a Texas Ranger says that Roberto Rodriguez said he was celebrating at his nephew’s birthday party when an “old man” drove past the residence. He told authorities one of his family members accused the man of being a “peeping tom” and “looking in a window at the residence” earlier this year.
Roberto Rodriguez told authorities that Ronnie Rodriguez Jr. started yelling at the man and the two exchanged words before the “old man” drove off.
About five minutes later, the man returned with four other men and confronted Ronnie Rodriguez Jr. and his father, according to the affidavit. An argument broke out between the two groups.
Ronnie Rodriguez Jr. pulled a handgun from his back waistline and fired a shot that didn’t hit anybody, the court document said.
The man’s father then took the gun from his son and opened fire at the group, Roberto Rodriguez told authorities. The group took down Ronnie Rodriguez Sr., but he continued shooting and hit the five men, according to the affidavit. Four died at the scene, while a fifth was taken to a Corpus Christi hospital.
Sgt. Nathan Brandley with the Texas Department of Public Safety identified those killed as 62-year-old Juan Espinoza Sr., 20-year-old Juan Sandoval III, 22-year-old Jeremy Sandoval, and 25-year-old Nicky Sandoval.
The U.S. Marshals Service said Ronnie Rodriguez Sr. was taken into custody at a motel in McAllen, Texas, near the U.S. border with Mexico. The agency said the Texas Rangers asked a task force led by the U.S. Marshals to assist with the search for Ronnie Rodriguez Sr.
Brandley said Ronnie Rodriguez Sr. was arrested on a capital murder warrant. It’s unclear exactly what charges he’ll face. He added that it’s possible that Rodriguez Sr. was trying to head across the border to Mexico.
Ronnie Rodriguez Jr. was charged with deadly conduct, Brandley said.
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