Man accused of killing 19-year-old ex returns to scene to take his own life, Pasadena police say

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Thursday, June 29, 2023
Man accused of killing 19-year-old ex takes his own life, police say
Pasadena police said a 911 caller reported seeing a suspicious male near a makeshift memorial for the 19-year-old. When officers arrived, he grabbed a shotgun.

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- A 20-year-old man accused of shooting and killing his 19-year-old ex-girlfriend in Pasadena took his own life on Thursday morning, according to police.

Pasadena police had been searching for Juan Carlos Mata since Lesley Reyes' murder at the Oakwood Village Apartments at 3210 Pasadena Boulevard late Monday night.

In an update Thursday morning, police said a 911 caller reported seeing a suspicious male near a makeshift memorial for Reyes at the apartment complex at 5:49 a.m.

An officer arrived within about 10 minutes and tried to make contact with the male, identified as Mata.

That's when police said Mata went behind a car, grabbed a shotgun, and shot himself in front of the officer.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said it's possible the gun Mata used was the same firearm used in Reyes' murder. A ballistics investigation is underway.

Sgt. Raul Granados said investigators had been in contact with Mata's family during the search, but the suspect didn't have his phone with him, so they had no idea where he was.

"Our detectives had been working to try and located Juan Carlos Mata by searching fields nearby. We put out his picture out to the public, hoping that somebody would give us information," Granados said. "We weren't able to obtain any information, we just know that he showed up, back at the scene."

ORIGINAL REPORT: Man wanted in shooting death of 19-year-old ex-girlfriend in Pasadena

The victim's parents live at the apartments and heard the gunshots. The mother reportedly called her daughter to warn her to be safe, and the boyfriend answered the phone, crying, saying he was sorry.

Investigators said Mata waited for hours in the apartment parking lot for Reyes to get off from her shift at O'Reilly Auto Parts on Monday.

When the 19-year-old got home just before midnight, investigators say Mata shot her in the head and fired a couple rounds into the air before running off with the gun.

Reyes was pronounced dead at the scene.

"He didn't just hurt my sister, he hurt our community," Reyes' sister, Lourdes Martinez, told ABC13. "I know she had a lot of life ahead of her. She was just 19 years old."

Martinez said she wants people to remember her only sister as gracious and funny.

Police said Reyes broke up with Mata about a month ago. Family members said he didn't accept the break up. He would reportedly text her and show up at her apartment complex.

"She had broken up with him. There's only one other documented incident, which was a disturbance from about a year ago. There was no instances of domestic violence that we investigated between them, but apparently he had been trying to contact her. She was trying to stay away from him," Sgt. Raul Granados said.

"He didn't want to see her with someone else," Martinez said. "He knew what he did. He knew what he did."

Police said Reyes' parents also live at the complex and actually heard the shots from the parking lot. Her mom called her daughter to warn her about being careful, having no idea it was her own daughter who had just been shot and killed.

Investigators said Mata picked up Reyes' phone, spoke to her mother, crying, repeatedly saying he was sorry, and that's when he took off.

"My stomach is just in knots just reliving her screams, you know?" another neighbor said. "Now it's like, oh my God, I can't believe somebody who looked so happy ended up being murdered, cold-blooded."

Neighbors saw Mata from time to time and said they thought he was friendly. Junior Salazar, who woke up to the sound of four shots fired right outside his apartment, said the suspect recently bought his daughter ice cream.

"He looked like a really nice person," Salazar said. "It's just crazy that something like that can happen."

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.