McALLEN — Police confirmed Sunday that one man died after a gunfight outside a McAllen house Saturday night, where investigators believe a group of men posing as police officers tried to steal about 1,000 pounds of marijuana inside.
Gunfire erupted outside the house on the 4800 block of West La Vista Avenue about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, leaving one man pronounced dead in Mission and another hospitalized in McAllen, said McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez.
Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez said Sunday afternoon that McAllen police investigators have taken over the case of a man left at Mission Regional Medical Center following the gunfight, which has been linked to a so-called pseudocop home invasion investigation. Investigators had initially not connected that link early Sunday morning.
Police are looking for Juan Gabriel Martinez Castillo, a man originally from Reynosa who leased and fled the rental house after the gunfight Saturday night.
Rodriguez said Sunday afternoon that police have made progress in the case, but that he could not release any new information. He said he hoped to provide an update today.
‘EXCHANGE OF GUNFIRE’
Police responded to the shots fired on the 4800 block of West La Vista Avenue about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Several men attempted to enter the house, apparently looking for the marijuana, Rodriguez said, but failed to gain entry.
A man at the house opened fire on the group before they were able to go inside and returned fire on the homeowner.
“They never make it past the front door,” Rodriguez said. “The indication we have is we have obvious gunfire from in the home, out, we have obvious indicators of gunfire from outside into the home.
“There was an exchange of gunfire, definitively, the reason we believe was to steal a load of drugs.”
Police have nobody else in custody beyond the man being treated at McAllen Medical Center, Rodriguez said.
Beyond several suspects, whose identities Rodriguez would not release, investigators are looking for at least two vehicles tied to the shooting.
Nothing found at the crime scene or inside the home indicates ties to Mexican drug cartels or organized crime, Rodriguez said.
A NORMALLY QUIET NEIGHBORHOOD
The neighborhood where Saturday night’s shootout happened — just blocks from Nikki Rowe High School — is home to single-family residences built mostly within the past eight years.
Andy Hoch said he thought he heard fireworks coming from his neighbor’s house Saturday night.
But the 27-year-old man soon realized he was wrong.
“I heard three gunshots, which were really loud and I thought they were firecrackers, so I didn’t freak out too much and then five, six consecutive shots,” he said. “Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.”
Hoch said a woman with two young children came out the front of the house while she talked on the phone. He said he didn’t know whether to offer her to come inside.
“She kind of had it figured out,” he said. “She was on the phone.”
Hoch recalled seeing kids riding bikes in front of the house and thought his neighbors were just another quiet family who mostly kept to themselves — and not holding a half-ton stash of marijuana inside.
“I would have never thought that — no,” he said. “Definitely not.”