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Crime News

Man Guns Down Teen Over Fireworks, Then Claims Self-Defense

Jason Roche of Austin, Texas has been charged with first-degree murder after shooting neighbor Devonte Ortiz during an argument over fireworks on the Fourth of July.

By Eric Shorey

A man in Austin shot and killed a young neighbor on the Fourth of July in a dispute over fireworks. Now, as locals mourn the death, the shooter claims he acted in self defense — despite apparent video evidence to the contrary.

Jason Roche, 41, gunned down 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz after the two argued over Ortiz's use of fireworks at their apartment complex. Roche told investigators that he had acted in self defense after Oritz reached for a firearm but cell phone video of the scene shows otherwise, according to The Statesman, an Austin, Texas-based news organization.

The video shows Roche repeatedly holstering and then un-holstering his gun as Roche's father attempted to de-escalate the situation, according to the arrest affidavit.

Shots were ultimately fired after Ortiz shoved Roche's father to the ground.

Police had already been called to the scene over the disturbance created by the argument but arrived to find Ortiz had already been killed. He was officially pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly thereafter, according to The Washington Post.

On July 6, local friends and family members of Ortiz gathered at Travis High School to mourn.

“When I got the news, I thought, ‘The Fourth of July is the worst day of my life,'" said Jaylen Isreal, Ortiz's cousin, according to The Statesman.

Ortiz's girlfriend also spoke fondly of the slain football player.

“He was so passionate and outgoing and so smart,” said Amber Garcia, according to The Statesman. “That boy gave me the world. He gave me the world. ... I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”

That same day, Roche was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, police said. Jail records indicate that he is being held at the Travis County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, is helping the Ortiz family with legal arrangements.

“When I heard this story, I was just like, are you kidding me?” Moore told The Washington Post. “[Fireworks on the Fourth of July] is something we all just deal with for like 36 hours. For this guy to be so outraged ... I don’t know. I can’t wrap my head around it.”

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the Ortiz family pay for "Devonte's home going arrangements." The page has already surpassed its $5,000 goal.

[Photo: Austin Police Department]