LONGVIEW — Questions surround the shooting death of a Longview teenager, who police say opened fire on them Sunday after a failed robbery. His actions were met with officers returning gunfire, striking the teen and killing him.
“I don’t know what happened to my son,” Melanie Bell said of her 15-year-old son Justin Aguilar, a Native American youth who attended school at Forest Park Middle School in Longview.
“I am going to lay him to rest the Indian (Choctaw) way in Philadelphia, Miss., but when I get back to Texas, I want answers,” she said.
Longview Police Public Information Officer Kristi Brian said her agency received a 911 call about 6 p.m. Sunday that an attempted robbery had taken place at the New Way convenience store in the 1300 block of South Green Street.
Brian said the clerk was able to give a detailed description of the suspect and said he was armed with a handgun.
Several minutes later, officers encountered Aguilar two blocks from the store where Brian said the teen fired at the officers.
“He did fire on officers and they returned fire,” she said.
Witnesses told KYTX CBS19 between 15 and 20 rounds were fired during the exchange that left the 15-year-old dead in the street.
Ms. Bell said it was six hours before police told her that her son was dead.
“It was horrible waiting to find out. I knew he was not at home, but I didn’t know for sure that he was involved in the shooting. Why couldn’t they tell me sooner?” she said.
Ms. Bell said her family moved to Longview in September from the Tampa Bay area for her fianc￩’s work, but after Aguilar and his 18- and 10-year-old brothers were registered for school, she said her fianc￩ was called back to Florida.
“I told him I couldn’t leave, because I wasn’t moving the kids from the schools they had started. We were planning on going back after the school year was over.”
What happened Sunday is unclear to the mother of three, who said she was working out at a local gym when she received a call from her oldest son that something was going on and police were everywhere.
“I had just left about 30 minutes earlier. Justin was home and we talked about dinner and what we were going to have. When I left, everything was fine,” she said.
Ms. Bell did admit her son had been in trouble with police before and had done some time in a juvenile center, but she did not give specifics.
“He was a good kid and never gave me much trouble. I tried to keep him in and watch who he was hanging around, but I guess he just got in with the wrong crowd,” she said as she traveled to Mississippi on Monday.
Brian said the Texas Rangers are leading the investigation and added the officers involved had been placed on leave until the investigation is complete.
Brian said this was the first officer-involved shooting of the year in Longview, but added there was a shooting last year. That shooting was not fatal.
On Friday a 16-year-old attempted to rob a woman in Jacksonville, but was thwarted by the woman’s husband. Police said the teen ran through downtown, through backyards and across major highways carrying a firearm. Police ordered the youth to drop the gun and were able to take him into custody.
Jacksonville officers said they were glad they did not have to shoot the teen. After the teen was detained it was learned the gun was not real, but officers said they did not know this until the teen was in custody.
“I am just shocked at all of this and I don’t know what went wrong. My son was a happy kid and not much trouble. Now he is dead and he’s not coming back,” Ms. Bell said.