Defense attorney: Fatal Easter weekend shooting was a ‘tragic accident’

A 21-year-old man who died after being shot last Friday on a ranch in rural Elsa was at a family gathering showing his gun to his cousin when the weapon discharged and fatally struck the man in the torso, according to the attorney representing the 25-year-old suspect in the case.

Edcouch resident Raul Reyes appeared via video-conferencing Wednesday morning in front of state District Judge Fernando Mancias where his attorney, Rick Salinas, asked that the $300,000 bond on a charge of manslaughter be reduced.

Reyes is accused of killing his cousin, Alex Diaz, who was found dying at a nearby store after deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call at a property at Mile 5 1/2 West late Wednesday night, according to authorities and Salinas.

After hearing arguments from Salinas, which included testimony from Diaz’s mother, Mayra Diaz, Mancias lowered the bond to $15,000 so that Reyes could attend his cousin’s funeral at Mayra’s request.

Salinas told Mancias that Diaz had a legal permit to carry and brought either a .40 caliber or 9mm Smith & Wesson to the family gathering.

“This is one of these tragic events where people shouldn’t mix alcohol and carry a firearm,” Salinas said.

According to the defense attorney, who said he was retained over the weekend and had thought long and hard about the case, the gun was being shown and Reyes may have handed it back and it went off.

“So many of the family members were at the gathering when this unfortunate accident occurred,” he said.

In a news release, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office says Reyes told sheriff’s investigators that Diaz accidentally shot himself with his gun.

However, investigators allege that witnesses said they heard Diaz say he had been shot by Reyes.

Salinas said Diaz may have made the statement at a store where he was driven to where EMS picked him up.

“He may have said he shot himself,” Salinas said, indicating he believes there may be a conflict in what Diaz’s final words actually were.

The defense attorney also said he believed Reyes’ arrest may have been “a little premature” and that the report that Diaz used his dying words to say Reyes shot him is “quite the opposite.”

During the hearing, Diaz’s mother — despite her grief — explained to Mancias, the judge, that she wasn’t opposed to a lower bond and would like Reyes to bail out so he could attend his cousin’s funeral.

“This is a very closely knit family,” Salinas said, adding that Reyes and Mayra have a tender and affectionate relationship.

Assistant District Attorney Juan Bazan asked Mayra whether she was aware that her son in his final moments had reportedly said that Reyes shot him and whether it would change her opinion of wanting a lower bond for Reyes.

She said she wasn’t aware, but that it didn’t change her opinion because Reyes and her son loved each other.

Before granting the lower bond, Mancias asked Mayra whether Reyes and Diaz ever had any animosity toward each other.

“No, they never had any problems,” she said through a translator.

Bazan, the prosecutor, was opposed to the bond reduction, citing the severity of the case.

Mancias told Salinas he would sign the order immediately and have it faxed to the sheriff’s office.