July 21, 2008 - 7:58PM
MERCEDES - An illegal immigrant tasked with guarding a convenience store shot and killed a teenager who attempted to burglarize it, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said Monday.
Silvestre Delgadillo, 28, remained on the run and authorities had "no idea" whether he fled to Mexico, Treviño said.
Delgadillo, who was convicted in 2005 on a felony drug charge, has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, a third-degree felony.
But the actual homicide is complicated by Texas' castle law, which allows people to use lethal force to defend themselves and their property.
Delgadillo is accused of shooting Roberto Garcia, 17, late Friday night.
"He is there to protect his residence - protect the business - under the direction of the owner," Treviño said.
He said he will submit the case to the District Attorney's office, which will then present it to a grand jury. The grand jury will determine whether to charge Delgadillo in connection with the homicide.
Delgadillo, who was deported after being released from prison earlier this year, could also be charged with a felony for illegally re-entering the country.
The shooting occurred late Friday or early Saturday, Treviño said, when Garcia and Ramiro Garza and Eloy Santana, both 17, tried to burglarize Valeria's Drive Thru convenience store by breaking through its roof.
Delgadillo was living inside the business, though, and had been told by store owner Olivia Lopez, 34, to guard it with a gun she provided, Treviño said. Delgadillo shot Garcia during the burglary, hitting him in the lung and artery, Treviño said. The wound killed Garcia within minutes.
Lopez, the storeowner, will be charged with failure to report a felony because she was not candid with police about the shooting, Treviño said. A grand jury would also have to decide whether she could face any sort of homicide charges.
"Ms. Lopez gave a convicted felon a firearm," Treviño said. "That's against the law. She lied to us from the onset of the investigation. That's against the law."
Garcia's accomplices will also be charged with burglary, Treviño said.
Ryan Holeywell covers PSJA, the Mid-Valley and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4446.