Anti-gay statements made before deadly shooting

Published: Aug. 7, 2017 at 3:18 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 at 3:49 PM EDT
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The suspect arrested in a deadly shooting in Lake Worth made anti-gay statements just before one man was killed and a second person was injured, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Nelson Hernandez Mena, 48, of Lake Worth is in custody and made a court appearance Monday morning.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, there was a fight inside the Las Flores restaurant along Lake Avenue near Dixie Highway before the shooting happened early Sunday morning.

The victim, Juan Cruz, died at the scene and a second person was rushed to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Just before the shooting, a detective said one witness claimed that Hernandez Mena said, "If we were in my country I'd kill all of you like rats."

A second witness claimed Hernandez Mena said, "I hate you damned gays I'm going to kill you all here."

The victim who survived the gunshots believes Hernandez Mena became angry when he got the phone number of one of Mena's friend and that he was targeted because he is gay, according to the police report.

When questioned later Hernandez Mena said that he was very drunk and had consumed 15 to 20 beers, according to the affidavit.

He claimed once he left the restaurant a group of guys started attacking and threatening him and that he remembers pulling out a gun and pulling the trigger but the man who died was not his intended target, the report states.

According to the detective who interviewed Hernandez Mena, he said he didn't intend to hurt anyone.

Mena was arrested on charges of first-degree murder with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm.

A judge denied bond for Hernandez Mena at his court appearance Monday morning and he was ordered to avoid contact with the victim's family.

Cruz's family was at the hearing and said Cruz did not know his alleged attacker.

"Whatever the judge does says or does to him nothing is going to bring Juan back to us. We just wanted to be fair and we just want him to have basically no life you have no rights to anything because he didn't give Juan rights," said Cruz's cousin Brenda Carballo.

Scripps Only Content 2017