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Mother of Cuero shooting suspect says son acted in self-defense

By Sonny Long
March 1, 2010 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated March 1, 2010 at 9:02 p.m.


CUERO - The mother of one of the men charged with the death of 26-year-old Isaac Gamez in Cuero said Monday that her son acted in self-defense.

Nellie McKaine, mother of 20-year-old Javance Lee Thomas, said the Friday shooting occurred at the home her son shares with his father on Togo Street and that Gamez and the men with him were trespassing.

"What were they doing in my son's yard?" she asked. "I'm just trying to understand why he is being charged."

Thomas and Marquis Headley, 18, are charged with murder and are being held in DeWitt County Jail on $250,000 bail.

McKaine said she met with Cuero Police Chief Chris Hernandez on Monday morning and, according to McKaine, the police chief told her they were getting different versions from different witnesses.

"He told me some of them are saying Javance pulled the trigger," a tearful McKaine said. "That's his dad's home, and he is in rehab at a nursing home. If Javance did do the shooting, he was protecting his property from everyone coming there."

Hernandez said Cuero police were "getting close" to identifying the shooter. The weapon used in the shooting has not been recovered.

Gamez suffered one gunshot wound to the body, the police chief said.

Hernandez said the investigation so far is indicating that Michael Villarreal, 21, and Justin Mathis, 20, were also involved in the shooting. The investigation is leading police to believe "multiple actors were involved" and additional arrests were "very possible," Hernandez said.

"We are going to talk to Michael Sheppard (DeWitt County District Attorney) and see if we can go with charges of organized crime as well," Hernandez said.

Of the arrests made so far, all the men have prior criminal convictions, except Thomas.

The victim also has a criminal history, according to official documents.

Cuero police issued a news release Monday morning detailing some of what took place Friday night:

About 9 p.m., a 911 call came in about a shooting in the 200 block of Togo Street. Attempts at CPR were made at the scene by emergency personnel, but Gamez was later pronounced dead at Cuero Community Hospital.

Investigation led police to the Clarence Street and Alonzo Street area, where some of those involved in the shooting were believed to be. Villarreal and Mathis, both of Cuero, were arrested at that location and crack cocaine, marijuana and two guns were found.

Villarreal fled from police for about 20 yards, but was apprehended, Hernandez said.

Thomas turned himself in to the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office about 10:30 p.m. Headley was found about an hour later in the Oaks Apartments and had to be convinced to surrender.

Hernandez also took questions from the media.

He would not verify that the shooting began as an argument at a Cuero convenience store, but, the news release said, "investigation revealed a fight had taken place ending in the fatal shooting of the victim."

Hernandez said police are investigating information about what led up to the shooting. He added that any gang ties are also being investigated.

"We believe it was an ongoing feud," Hernandez said.

Asked about possible retaliation, the police chief said, "it's always a concern when the feud is ongoing as it is, and you have a shooting involved and emotions are flaring."

"We have folks that want a speedy process and may even want revenge. It's always possible on both sides. We are staying in close contact with the victim's family, assuring them that we are doing our part," Hernandez said.

According to information provided for Gamez's obituary, the tile contractor is married and the father of three sons.

"I'm friends with that family. This is tearing me up," McKaine said.

The Gamez family declined comment at this time.

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