A 41-year-old white man was arrested for murdering an Austin teen after an argument over fireworks on Wednesday, July 4th.
Friends, families and classmates gathered together at Travis High School Friday evening to remember 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz who was shot and killed by Jason Roche on Independence Day.
“Not for a single day did I think I was going to lose him,” said close friend Jaylen Isreal through tears to Statesman.
Police officials received a call around 1:26 a.m. on Wednesday that Ortiz had been gunned down by a white male. The suspect was later identified as Roche and he was taken into custody early Friday morning. The teen later died at the hospital due to his gunshot wounds.
Roche told authorities he’d shot Ortiz in self-defense after the teen supposedly reached for his firearm, however video footage obtained by the police show otherwise.
Officials said a witnesses’ video recording showed Roche and his father arguing with Ortiz. At one point Roche had the gun pointed at Ortiz’s head. The teen reportedly pushed the man’s father and that’s when Roche fired the shot. The 41-year-old claimed he’d talked to the teen and his friends about lighting up fireworks, but they continued on. Roche approached them again and the confrontation escalated. Roche claimed Ortiz tried to reach for his gun before he fired, but the teen was not holding a gun at all according to CBS.
“It’s senseless,” said Myke Jones a friend of Ortiz.
The young man graduated from Travis High School in 2017 and was a player on the football team. He was a great student and was on A/B honor roll.
Tontanisha Freeman, a family friend, told Statesman that Ortiz was a really good kid. “Devonte has never been in trouble, never been the type of child that was confrontational. He was a normal kid with a bright future ahead and it all ended to a senseless tragedy.” Freeman also set up a GoFundMe account for the 19-year-old.
A leader with the Austin Justice Coalition, Chas Moore stated, “We will not sleep until this 41-year-old white racist is behind bars.”
Roche is being detained on a $250,000 bond in Travis County.
LIVE NOW: Family and friends of 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz, fatally shot on the Fourth of July over fireworks, speak out.Read the story here: atxne.ws/2KFRG8M
Posted by Austin American-Statesman on Friday, July 6, 2018