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Victoria man accidentally shoots himself in head at party

By Brian Cuaron
May 16, 2011 at 12:16 a.m.


A birthday party ended Friday night with one man dead and two brothers, including the honoree, in jail.

Matthew A. Chapa Zapata, 20, of Victoria, died from a gunshot wound to the head after he accidentally shot himself while playing with a handgun, officials said.

The brothers were arrested and charged with interfering with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office investigation.

Zapata brought the 9mm handgun to a party in the 1100 block of Old Goliad Road, said sheriff's office Capt. Herb Tucker.

The person who drove Zapata to the party didn't know he had the gun, but friends at the party had previously seen Zapata with a gun, Tucker said.

The party began at 9 p.m. and Zapata had been drinking while there, Tucker said. Before wounding himself, Zapata fired several rounds into the air and was cautioned about his behavior.

It was then that Zapata walked over to another person at the party and started a conversation. Suddenly he brought out his gun and when doing so, the gun fired into the right side of his head, near his ear.

The sheriff's office received the call at 4:06 a.m.

Zapata was pronounced dead at Citizens Medical Center.

During the investigation, Matthew Dane Johnson, 25, of Victoria, and whose birthday was Friday, was charged with interfering with public duties and possession of controlled substance, according to the arrest report.

When officers arrived at the scene, Johnson refused to move out of the way of their patrol car as he was walking up the middle of the driveway but later moved, according to the report.

Deputy Randy Williams reported that he saw Johnson enter the property and close an aluminum gate behind him.

Williams said in the report that Johnson was very aggressive and belligerent, ordering officers off his property.

Around that time, Williams wrote, he saw an ambulance at that same gate and heard someone yelling that the aluminum gate was locked.

The gate was eventually opened and the ambulance gained access to Zapata. Williams wrote that Johnson was wandering around and being verbally abusive.

With the help of Johnson's mother, deputies convinced him to go inside the home, according to the report, but he came back outside, becoming more aggressive and verbally abusive to anyone trying to control him, later threatening his mother.

He tried to approach Zapata and again ordered deputies off the property. When his mother approached him, he again threatened her, according to the report.

Johnson was arrested and placed in the patrol car. He later kicked the windows and doors of the patrol car from the inside.

Johnson's brother, Cole Johnson, 27, became "extremely verbal and combative as well" and was arrested, according to the report.

Both brothers were put in the same patrol car, where they yelled and screamed and one tried to spit at the officers in front.

Later, Matthew Johnson slammed his head into the car's center partition, causing a one-inch gash near his hairline. He was taken to Citizens Medical Center for treatment, but refused medical attention. He was then taken to jail, according to the report.

While examining Matthew Johnson's property, deputies found a small, black bag with a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine, according to the report.

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