17-year-old dead; sister, 22, arrested (w/video)
BLOOMINGTON - In the living room of a small, warm trailer, a dark towel hid the blemish of fresh blood on the living room floor.
Mere hours ago, that same room buzzed with laughter as a family reunited for the holiday. Sandra Deleon Ramirez said she was chopping onions in the kitchen with her mother when she heard the loud, crackling sound of gunfire.
She looked up.
Her son collapsed.
"It was fast," she cried.
By the time Victoria County sheriff's deputies left the home early Thursday morning, her 22-year-old daughter was handcuffed and arrested on suspicion of shooting her 17-year-old brother, Richard Rico Deleon, in his face.
Officers responded about 1 a.m. to the call of shots fired in the 400 block of Hedge Street, said Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor.
Deleon was pronounced dead on the scene by Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Judge Richard Castillo.
Janiemarie Perez Clay was escorted by deputies about 4:30 a.m. and is being held at the Victoria County Jail. Her bond was set at $75,000.
The family, however, doesn't believe Clay should be behind bars or charged with murder.
The shooting was an accident, they said.
O'Connor said the cause of death is pending autopsy results, but the sheriff's office stands by the charge of murder, and the charges should not change because of the results.
Ramirez, 38, said she saw her son playing with a gun earlier that day, "I told him to put it away."
The gun, O'Connor said, was a handgun, but because of the investigation, he was unable to give out the type.
Ramirez said Clay was trying to take the gun away from her brother when it accidentally fired.
"It's like I lost two kids in one day." Ramirez sobbed, reaching out to hug her pregnant daughter, Ruby Deleon, 18.
Ruby Deleon was barely audible when she spoke. Her words were a mere whisper as she talked about how her brother was going to throw her a baby shower soon.
"We were so close," she said as tears ran down her face. "We were all close."
Ramirez said officers questioned the family individually and that Clay told authorities that she shot her brother. However, she said her daughter suffers serious emotional disorders, including psychotic tendencies, depression and a panic disorder.
"They should have taken that into consideration," Ramirez said. "She shouldn't have been charged with murder if it was an accident - she loved her brother."
Ramirez didn't want to continue cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but because the home was filled with children and family, she and her mother kept cooking and delivered a feast for their family Thursday afternoon.
"It's hard to celebrate without them here."
Her worry, however, is providing a funeral for her son.
Ramirez said her husband recently had a stroke, and the family is unable to afford the costs involved. The family plans to set up a fund in their son's honor at Artero's Funeral Home.
"The only thing we have to do is be strong," she said.