PASADENA, Texas – A 20-year-old man in Texas who was suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, shot and killed himself Thursday when he was seen near a memorial for her.
Lesley Reyes, 19, sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head outside her Oakwood Village apartment in Pasadena, Texas late Monday evening, about midnight. Her ex-boyfriend, Juan Carlos Mata, 20, was quickly identified as the suspect in the case and had evaded police since the homicide occurred, reported the New York Post.
Mata avoided contact with authorities until police received a call at 5:49 a.m. Thursday regarding a suspicious person hanging around a “makeshift memorial” erected at the location Reyes was murdered.
An officer arrived within 10 minutes and attempted to contact Mata. However, before they had a chance to interact, he died by suicide, authorities said.
“[Mata] went behind a car, retrieved a shotgun and committed suicide in front of our officer,” Sgt. Raul Granados with the Pasadena Police Department said during a press conference.
Investigators believe the firearm used by Mata to kill himself was the same weapon used to kill Reyes in what police are now calling a murder-suicide.
Mata was the only suspect after Reyes was fatally shot outside her apartment late Monday evening. Investigators said he waited outside her residence for six hours before launching an “ambush attack.”
Juan Carlos Mata shot himself in front of an officer Thursday after he was found lurking around his ex-girlfriend’s makeshift memorial. (Pasadena Police Department, /Twitter)
Witnesses saw the two verbally sparring in the parking lot before shots were fired.
Following the murder, Mata picked up Reyes’ phone and repeatedly cried to her mother, saying he was “sorry,” according to investigators.
After the call was made, the woman’s parents ran outside the apartment and discovered their daughter lying in street.
Although Mata remained at the scene as police arrived, he soon disappeared once officers confirmed Reyes was dead, Granados said.
Police speculated that Mata stayed in the local area, but ditched his cell phone, making it difficult for detectives to find him, The Post reported.
Reyes’ family said the relationship was “abusive” and “toxic” for the 19-year-old woman. They described Mata as “obsessed” with her. He failed to accept the break-up and would hound her by text and showing up at her residence unannounced in the month prior to the deadly encounter.
“She had broken up with him. There’s only one other documented incident, which was a disturbance from about a year ago. There was no instances of domestic violence that we investigated between them, but apparently he had been trying to contact her. She was trying to stay away from him,” said Granados.
Reyes’ sister, Lourdes Martinez said Mata was extremely jealous, reported ABC13.
“He didn’t want to see her with someone else,” Martinez said. “He knew what he did… He didn’t just hurt my sister, he hurt our community. I know she had a lot of life ahead of her. She was just 19 years old.”