FREEPORT, Texas (FOX 26) - A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a 13-year-old friend at a park in Freeport. One friend is now dead and the other is locked up, charged with the death of his buddy.
"He was my only brother,” says Luz Tapia, the sister of shooting victim Juan Borja, as she tries to comfort her mother. The 13-year-old boy was the only male among a total of five siblings.
"She’s thinking that it’s just a dream and nothing of this is true,” says Tapia about her mother, but unfortunately this is a nightmare of the worst kind, one you cannot wake up from. Beyruth Borja’s only son Juan was known to be a happy child who was always smiling, who never made an enemy. Now his 14-year-old friend is charged in his death.
"They both attend the same school here in Freeport, Freeport Intermediate," explains Freeport Police Department Captain Raymond Garivey. "They were at the park as friends when the incident took place.”
In fact, several children were walking home from Freeport Intermediate School activities on Wednesday. Juan had just finished football practice and went along with a group of boys to Peppermint Park.
Investigators say they have learned Juan pulled out a revolver, began playing with it and loaded it with one bullet.
"There was some discussion as they were showing the gun around regarding the game of Russian roulette," adds Capt. Garvey. "During that time, the gun was passed over to the suspect." Juan was shot in the chest and had fallen to the ground. The other boys scattered and only one of them contacted 911.
"He wasn’t a bad kid and the way he died, I don’t wish that on nobody," says a crying Yuvia Gallardo, Juan's cousin. "He was only 13. He died alone. There was kids around and nobody helped him. I’m not saying if they would have called sooner he would have survived, but they just left him laying there.”
"Tragic, terrible situation -- I can’t emphasize over and over and over about gun safety," says Capt. Garvey. "Parents, check in with your children. Don’t let your children try to tell you it’s their room, their car, their backpack. It’s not theirs.”
"He really wasn’t a bad kid," adds Gallardo. "He was always in school activities. It’s very heartbreaking.”
The 14-year-old boy is charged with manslaughter and tampering with evidence for allegedly hiding the gun in a field. Police have now recovered the revolver. Investigators are trying to find out where the 13-year-old boy obtained the gun. They say depending on the answer, more charges could follow.
The Freeport Police Department has released the following statement on Thursday:
Today at 1:05 PM, the Freeport Police took a Freeport 14 year old suspect into custody. He has been charged with Manslaughter (F2) and Tampering With Or Fabricating Physical Evidence (F3).
Based on our investigation, yesterday the victim, Juan Borja, the 14 year old suspect, and other juvenile witnesses (who are not being identified at this time because of their age) were hanging out together at Peppermint Park (1200 W 8th Street) in Freeport around 5:45PM on April 19th, 2017. During this time Juan Borja pulled out a revolver, showed it to the other juveniles, and then it appeared that Juan loaded a round of ammunition into the gun and made the comment of playing Russian Roulette. The suspect then pointed it at Juan Borja. The suspect then discharged one round which struck Juan Borja in the upper chest area fatally wounding him (pronounced deceased at the hospital). The suspect later hid the gun in a field. Freeport Investigators have recovered the revolver and now charged the suspect. This investigation is still continuing.