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Houston Auto Mechanic Executed Two Days Before Christmas Allegedly Over $500 Repair Bill
Witnesses saw mechanic Luis Casillas arguing with a customer and five other men over a repair bill before they allegedly chased him down, pushed him to his knees and shot him point blank in the head.
A Houston auto mechanic was allegedly gunned down over a $500 repair bill two days before Christmas, and his family is now pleading with the public to help them find his killers.
Luis Manuel Casillas, 29, was working at his body shop, Casillas Swaps, in the 7600 block of the North Freeway, when witnesses saw him arguing with a customer, according to Houston-based ABC affiliate KTRK.
Casillas' sister, Sandy Casillas, told FOX 26 that her brother had planned to collect his payment for repairing his alleged killer's truck. But when the unidentified man came to pick up his vehicle, he was accompanied by five other Hispanic men in two trucks and refused to pay his bill, according to the family.
When the men allegedly became aggressive, Casillas fled, says his family.
"My brother started running," Sandy Casillas told KTRK she learned from witnesses. "He ran through all the side businesses he could run through. They did catch up to him, and they shot him in the head. [Point] blank. They put him on his knees and they shot him in the head."
The victim's sister told KHOU 11, a CBS-affiliated Houston station, that Casillas begged for his life before he was shot.
"He begged them, 'I have a family, just take whatever you want.' And they said 'no,'" Sandy Casillas told the outlet.
Two witnesses tended to the mortally-wounded mechanic until emergency services arrived, the outlet reported. Casillas succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.
Police have yet to release a description of the alleged killers, but the victim's family claims to know who killed Casillas. The victim's brother, Jose Casillas, told KHOU that he had spoken to the mechanic the day of his murder about the unruly customer before the fatal incident, and even received screenshots of text conversations between his brother and his alleged killer.
"After that, I just received a call that my brother has been shot," he told the outlet tearfully outside the Funeraria Del Angel in El Paso, which is overseeing the victim's Thursday funeral. "I didn't believe it at first."
"Detectives are investigating the events leading up to the shooting and aiming to recover possible video footage of the incident," the Houston Police Department said in a press release.
Casillas leaves behind a wife, Maria, and two daughters, aged 2 and 3, according to his obituary.
His family said he had intended to use the disputed $500 payment to finish his Christmas shopping for his children. Those children, still too young to understand what had transpired, opened presents on Christmas.
"Santa was coming with Daddy, but Santa showed up, but Daddy didn't," Sandy Casillas said, according to KTRK.
"They didn't just take $500. They took a life, they took our life, they took a father," Sandy Casillas also said, KTVU reported.
Friends and family gathered near the crime scene on Christmas Day to mourn and to vow justice.
"They took out AK-47s, they took out guns, to those six individuals, you know who you are, I will find you!" Sandy Casillas told the crowd, reported KTVU. "Justice will be done for my brother and his family."
She said she hopes that justice is served swiftly.
"You don't do that to human beings," Sandy Casillas said, according to KTRK. "You don't do that to animals. How do you do that to my brother? What they did is not fair and if you're the mother of those six individuals, at least be a good enough mother to turn your child in."
A GoFundMe initiative organized for Casillas' children has raised $3,685 of a $10,000 goal as of Wednesday afternoon.
"For those of you that knew him, you knew that he was the life of the party, the funny man, the one who made us laugh when we needed it," reads the GoFundMe, written by Gloria Medel. "Everyone will tell you that you should prepare for death, that it is unbeatable. Luis deserved to beat it, to be here with his family. He brightened so many lives with his sense of humor, loud belly laugh, and selflessness."
Anyone with information concerning the killing is asked to contact the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.