By KENNETH DEAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
Grief-stricken family and friends Tuesday described Jennifer Ramirez Mata as a woman who loved her three children and doted on them constantly.
Mrs. Mata, 30, of Tyler, was fatally gunned down Tuesday, and her 29-year-old husband, Adrian Mata, was arrested in the killing, Smith County sheriff’s officials said.
Mata has been charged with murder and aggravated assault/family violence with a deadly weapon. He was being held on bonds totaling $1 million Tuesday night.
“We’re all still in shock, and we are just trying to understand this,” Isabel Galaz, Mrs. Mata’s aunt, said from East Texas Medical Center on Tuesday. “There were never any indications that anything was wrong.”
Deputies just after 11 a.m. responded to a report of a woman shot at 1583 County Road 333 (Poplar Road) just off Highway 271 outside Loop 323, Sheriff Larry Smith said.
Mrs. Mata, who was shot in the head, was taken to a local hospital and later died.
The shooting’s cause remained under investigation, Smith said.
Mata’s criminal history included only minor infractions, he added.
More than 20 evidence markers Tuesday lined the oil-topped street at the crime scene directly behind Interstate Trucks on Loop 323.
Investigators believe some of the casings found at the scene were from bullets fired earlier in the day, Smith said.
Mata was armed with an “AR-15 type” weapon and a handgun, Smith said, but he did not say which weapon was used on Mrs. Mata.
Friends and family were gathered at ETMC when Mrs. Mata died of the injuries.
“She was a great mother, the kind that made sure everything was the best for her kids,” Rachel Maldonado, a friend, said via a phone interview. “She was also a good friend.
“She was a beautiful person inside, and she was really loved and will be missed.”
After the shooting, Tyler police searched a home near Rusk and Vine Street, but Mata was not there.
Police later found him at a home on Serenity Way in the Villages off Farm-to-Market Road 2661.
Mata originally said he would not surrender to authorities, and a SWAT team was summoned, but he was apprehended.
“Were just trying to put this all together, and we’re praying and staying together,” Ms. Galaz said. “That’s really all we can do right now.”