AUSTIN -- At a press briefing following the death of an Austin teen who was reportedly shot to death on July 4 over an argument regarding fireworks, his grandmother told the media, "Justice will be served."
The man accused of shooting the teen to death during the early morning hours of the Fourth of July has been charged with first-degree murder.
Police said that at around 1:30 a.m. at an apartment complex on Anken Drive near South Pleasant Valley Road, a neighbor was shooting off fireworks. Police said an argument regarding the fireworks broke out between 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz and 41-year-old Jason Roche.
According to witnesses and video detectives were able to obtain of the incident, the "disturbance between the two men began because fireworks were being ignited in the apartment complex parking lot," police said.
The two stopped arguing but got into another disturbance when the fireworks continued, according to the Austin Police Department. Police said the second argument escalated to the point that both men displayed firearms.
Police officers were called to the apartment complex due to reports that a man was pointing a gun at the head of a teen and that he had been shot.
Ortiz -- who police said lived at the apartment complex -- was taken to a hospital where he died at 2:12 a.m. On July 5, the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office declared Ortiz's death a homicide.
According to arrest documents, Roche was taken to the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit after the shooting for an interview. Roche explained to investigators that he had told Ortiz and his friends to stop shooting off fireworks in the area, but said that Ortiz did not listen. Roche said he shot Ortiz after the second discussion with the group. According to the affidavit, Roche said that he shot Ortiz in the front and upper torso in an act of self-defense after witnessing him reach for his firearm. Roche said that Ortiz had pulled out a firearm from his vehicle minutes before the shooting and had placed the weapon on the ground by his vehicle.
At the crime scene, detectives said they found two firearms: a Taurus firearm that Roche claimed belonged to him and an AR-15 style-rifle lying on the ground next to the area where Ortiz was shot.
Detectives said they reviewed cell phone video taken by witnesses at the scene. In them, investigators said they saw Ortiz and Roche arguing. Authorities said Roche is seen in the footage displaying his firearm multiple times and following the teen around a vehicle as they continue to argue with each other. At one point, Roche's father appears on camera and attempts to intervene in the argument, according to detectives. Roche's father then allegedly began arguing with Ortiz, and the two reportedly began to shove each other back and forth. Detectives said Ortiz shoved Roche's father and caused him to fall to the ground. At that point, investigators said they saw Roche shoot Ortiz. Investigators noted that Ortiz was not holding a firearm and was moving away from it, contradicting the claim Roche made to police during his interview.
Police have not said whether or not Roche lived at the apartment complex, but APD did say that the two men "were previously acquainted with each other."
His family held a press conference on July 6. Ortiz's grandmother represented the family.
She started the press conference by saying that his family lovingly called Ortiz "Bubba." She told the press that his family loved him dearly and "we're going to continue to love him."
Ortiz, who was a A/B honor roll student at Travis High School, went to Blinn College for a couple of semesters, his grandmother said.
He "then decided to come home," she said. "He had ambitions -- he was very career minded. He wanted to be a coach and teacher."
Family and friends of Ortiz held a vigil Friday night at Travis High School in South Austin to remember him. His family told KVUE Ortiz ran track and played football before graduating in 2017.
"He was so passionate and brave and smart and outgoing. If he had the chance to give everyone the world, he would give everyone the world. He gave me everything," Ortiz's girlfriend, Amber Garcia, said at the vigil.
Garcia said she dropped Ortiz off at the apartment complex Tuesday night and was supposed to pick him up.
"I was supposed to go get him. And I fell asleep. And he told me come get me," Garcia said.
Neighbors who spoke to KVUE also had good things to say about Ortiz.
"Real good kids," said neighbors Darrel Medearis and Nina Rocha. "Devonte was A/B honor roll student. Star football player for Travis High School. Graduated, he was working, going to college, never disrespected nobody, and would help, would drop anything he was doing if you asked him to help you. He was not a disrespectful young man."
Rocha said she used to cut Ortiz's hair and that not seeing him coming home from work will be hard for her.
"He's not there telling me, 'How are you doing Ms. Nina? How was work today? Are you doing okay today?'" Nina Rocha said. "I'm not going to see that or hear that no more from him."
Jason Roche was booked into the Travis County Jail on July 6. His bond is set at $250,000. According to court documents, Roche finished a 10-year probation sentence in December 2010 for a felony drug possession offense in 2000. He was also convicted in Travis County of burglarizing a vehicle in 1994, driving while intoxicated in 1999 and possession of a controlled substance in 2000.