Juan Javier Cruz sacrificed his life defending gay cousin and friends
Juan Javier Cruz sacrificed his life defending his gay friends from a barrage of unprovoked homophobic attacks. Police say Cruz and a group of friends were leaving a restaurant when assailant Nelson Hernandez Mena walked up to them shouting anti-gay epithets at them. Cruz stepped up to defend his cousin and friends when Mena pulled out a gun and shot him. Cruz died instantly. A go-fundme page has been set up to fund Mr. Cruz’s funeral expenses.
It is unclear whether or not Nelson Hernandez Mena, who is from Hondrus, will face the death penalty. He admitted to the police that had had over 15 beers prior to the incident. “He did it for no reason,” Cruz’s cousin Brenda Carvallo said of the suspect, according to WPBF-TV. Mena reportedly told officers he didn’t intend to hurt anyone. Carvallo said the man had been starring them down all night until the bar closed. At that time he confronted the group and the incident occurred. Cruz’s mother says she takes solace in the fact that her son sacrificed his life defending his cousin.
One of Mena’s friends said he heard the shots ring out as he was walking toward his car. He asked Mena what happened and Mena responded “nothing” he then “asked him to take him somewhere,” according to the arrest report.
When Mena was arrested around 10 a.m. on Sunday, the police say he claimed that “a group of guys started attacking and threatening him” when he walked outside the restaurant.
Sheriff’s officials also said Mena recalled reaching for his gun and pulling the trigger, but told investigators that Cruz was not his intended target.