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A Texas family has been accused of gunning down an innocent neighbor in their community in a disturbing case of mistaken identity.
Luis Argueta, 45, Florinda Argueta, 39, Joe Argueta, 19, and Margarito Alcantar, 29, are all facing charges of murder after authorities said they tried to seek revenge on a man they thought had been damaging their home, only to realize that they had targeted the wrong man and killed a neighbor instead, according to a statement from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Ed Gonzales also described the incident on Twitter as “a tragic case of mistaken” identity.
Deputies were called to the Westminster Village Subdivision Monday night around 11:35 a.m. after receiving reports of a shooting in the area, according to a statement from authorities.
Deputies discovered a dark gray Dodge Challenger riddled with bullet holes abandoned in the front yard of a residence. The driver—later identified as 29-year-old Eddie Clark—had managed to flee the vehicle after getting shot, before collapsing not far from his home. Clark was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Florinda and her son Joe were also at the scene and allegedly told investigators that they had believed a teenage Hispanic male who had been friends with Joe’s ex-girlfriend, had repeatedly damaged their home. They believed the teen, who Joe said had also been “threatening him for a while over an ex-girlfriend,” drove a black Dodge Challenger, according to court documents obtained by People.
The family came up with a plan to “take care of” the problem, according to the court records also obtained by local station KTRK.
Around 11:30 p.m. Monday night, authorities said Joe spotted a dark gray Dodge Challenger on the road and the family used their own vehicles to block the car while Joe and another male family member approached on foot. One of the men was armed with a baseball bat while Joe was carrying a pistol. He allegedly fired “multiple gunshots at the passenger side of the Challenger” as Clark was trying to flee, authorities said.
Clark crashed the car into a tree before trying to flee on foot.
Joe later told law enforcement authorities that he had been the one carrying the pistol, according to the statement from the sheriff’s office.
Authorities said Clark, who lived in the Westminster Village Subdivision, had been on his way home when he was confronted by the family. The Arguetas did not know Clark.
Joe was initially the only one taken into custody at the scene, but after reviewing statements from witnesses and reviewing surveillance video in the area authorities charged all four family members with murder.
Luis Argueta and Margarito Alcantar remain on the run, the local station reports.
During an appearance in court Wednesday morning, a judge admonished Joe Argueta for his alleged actions.
“This is an example of taking the law into your own hands," she said, according to the local station. "Not going through the proper authorities to resolve any other harm or destruction that was being done to your own residence or your own home. It still doesn't justify taking the law into your own hands and mistaking the person."
Joe’s attorney, David Bires, told People that his client had “no criminal history” and planned to plead not guilty at an arraignment scheduled for June 15.
Oxygen.com reached out to Bires for additional comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
Florinda’s bond has been set at $20,000, while her son Joe’s bond was set at $50,000.
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