Dallas family confronts shooter decades after death, injury

December 5, 2018
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In this Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, photo, Veronica Garcia, whose brother Jose Villegas was paralyzed in a shooting that killed her uncle Juan Lopez in May 1992, holds photos of her brother as she speaks to Joseph Buckaloo, pleaded guilty to murder for Lopez's death, in Dallas. Garcia's family took a step toward justice after decades of not knowing who was responsible for the shooting in which a single bullet killed her uncle and left her brother paralyzed. (Dana Branham/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas family took a step toward justice after decades of not knowing who was responsible for a shooting in which a single bullet killed a relative and left another paralyzed.

Joseph Buckaloo was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison after confessing to opening fire on a car in May 1992, killing 19-year-old Juan Lopez and injuring his then-11-year-old nephew, Jose Villegas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Buckaloo, 44, pleaded guilty to murder for Lopez’s death, but he won’t face charges for shooting Villegas because the crime’s statute of limitations had expired before his identity was discovered.

Villegas has been in a vegetative state ever since surviving a shot in the head from the same bullet that killed his uncle, according to the family.

Lopez’s mother and Villegas’ sisters confronted Buckaloo in a Dallas courtroom on Tuesday, testifying about how his crime shattered their lives.

“I was 12 when you shot my brother and my uncle for no reason,” Veronica Garcia said in court. “You ruined their lives... I hope when you’re in that jail, that you think about them.”

Buckaloo is already serving three concurrent 99-year sentences for aggravated assault charges.

The family said they pressed to reopen the case after 26 years because it’s something they’ll never forget. But detectives had no physical evidence to use, so solving the case depended on Buckaloo’s confession, said Dallas Police Detective Noe Camacho.

Camacho and other detectives interviewed Buckaloo at a prison in Amarillo last December, when he eventually agreed to confess to the crime. Buckaloo blamed road rage for his motivation to shoot at the car that morning, according to the affidavit.

Garcia called Buckaloo’s 30-year sentence “nothing” compared to what he deserved. She said speaking to him in the courtroom brought back decades of anger, pain and sadness.


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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