WESLACO — The man accused of shooting a doctor in November was recruited the same day the fatal robbery turned into a murder in a matter of minutes.
Weslaco police Chief Joel Rivera announced that investigators tracked down Alamo residents Joel Ismael Gonzalez, 17, Josue Benavides Torres, 31, and Weslaco resident Luis Antonio Lopez Valenzuela, 19, between Jan. 3 and Jan. 8 after a tip from Runnels County, Texas, from a sharp-eyed deputy helped crack the case.
The trio is accused of murdering Dr. John Dominguez on Nov. 7 during an attempt to steal $25,000 in cash they believed he kept in a brief case in his car, according to probable cause affidavits.
On the afternoon of the killing, Weslaco police initially reported they were responding to a two-vehicle fatal collision on Business 83 in Weslaco.
Investigators quickly realized, however, that they were dealing with something more than a tragic wreck.
“While at the crash scene, witnesses to the shooting lead police to where the shooting occurred,” according to the charging document.
But a month would pass before investigators received a tip from an investigator working a home invasion case nearly 500 miles away from Weslaco in Runnels County, which is near San Angelo, would open a floodgate of clues leading to the arrests.
The Runnels County Sheriff’s Department opened the investigation after a person whose name is redacted in the probable cause affidavits chased down a Dark Blue Sonata this person believed was driven by a person named Eduardo Torres, who the individual suspected of assaulting and robbing his coworkers of $12,500.
The victims had been able to identify Torres to this individual because Torres used to work with them and they recognized his voice, according to the affidavit.
“This person finds Torres and crashes into the Dark Blue Sonata, disabling the vehicle while Torres and his girlfriend Emily Hinojosa flee the scene on foot,” the affidavit stated.
At this point, the Runnels Sheriff deputies are involved and begin interviewing victims and witnesses of the home invasion, which took place inside a bunk house at a gin on Dec. 6, 2019.
During one of those interviews, a person whose name is redacted tells police that the vehicle was given to Torres to hide because it had been used in the Weslaco shooting, according to the charging document.
Torres’ brother, according to the affidavit, is Gonzalez, the shooter who Benavides recruited to conduct the robbery on Nov. 7, 2019.
After receiving the tip from Runnels County deputies, Weslaco police investigators finally had a suspect vehicle and witnesses pointing fingers at a suspect, Gonzalez — the alleged shooter.
As for motive, Rivera said during a Jan. 6 press conference that Benavides received information about Dominguez from a “curandero,” with whom he had a connection.
The probable cause affidavit states that Benavides, who police have described as the mastermind of the robbery, was recruited to secure money from Dominguez.
“Benavides states that he was approached to secure this money by some force using threats of exposure to prior bad acts he committed with the person that contracted him, identified by Benavides as [redacted],” the charging document stated. “Benavides states he recruits both Joel Gonzalez and the Driver, who he identifies as Luis, to be the ones to make contact with the Doctor and extort the money from him by force.”
Rivera said during a press conference that police expected one more arrest, but Weslaco police spokesman Eric Hernandez said Wednesday the arrest was possible, adding that no other arrests have been made.
Benavides also told investigators he never knew Gonzalez had a weapon and that he never authorized the use of a weapon.
That statement, however, conflicts with what Gonzalez told investigators. He told investigators that the person who recruited him, Benavides, provided him with the weapon, according to the probable cause affidavit.
As for Gonzalez, he thought he would earn $40,000 by committing the robbery.
He never received a cent, according to the probable cause affidavit.
All three remain jailed on $1 million in bonds.