4 killed, 1 hurt in shooting at Texas child’s 1st birthday party

A child’s first birthday party turned deadly over the weekend when an argument among family members ended in gunfire that left a man and three of his grandsons dead.

CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported that the shooting took place in Taft, a city of about 3,000 people 12 miles north of Corpus Christi. The dead were all distant relatives of the child for whom the party was held.

Sgt. Nathan Brandley, with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that officers arrived at the residence just after 5 p.m. Saturday to find four men dead: Juan Espinoza Sr., 62, and his grandsons, Juan Sandoval III, 20, Jeremy Sandoval, 22, and Nicky Sandoval, 25. According to the news station, the injured man was Espinoza's 43-year-old son, Juan Espinoza Jr.

Juan Espinoza Jr. was airlifted to a hospital in Corpus Christi and was expected to survive, the CBS affiliate reported. His sister, Belinda Espinoza, said on Facebook Sunday that he was in critical condition and required surgery.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CNN reported that all the dead were found in the backyard of the home where the party took place.

A 20-year-old man, Ronnie Rodriguez Jr., is in custody in the shooting, Brandley told CNN. His father, Ronnie Rodriguez Sr., 37, is at large.

No charges had been filed against the younger Rodriguez as of Sunday, Brandley said.

"There (were) a lot of people who witnessed this happen," Brandley told the CBS affiliate. "(We're) still interviewing eyewitnesses and everybody that was there at the party, trying to piece all the pieces of the puzzle together."

Family members did not say what the argument was about, but Brandley told CNN witnesses said it started with "an argument over something real small and it escalated real quickly to where guns were involved."

It was not clear Monday whether any of the men killed or injured were armed at the time of the shooting.

Belinda Espinoza, who is raising funds on Facebook to help bury her father and nephews, told CNN that her father was a farmer and family man.

"He did everything he could for us," Espinoza told the network. "He was happily married to his first and only love, my mother, Eulalia Sandoval."

She described her brother, Juan Espinoza Jr., as a man who would “give the shirt off his back” for anyone he cared about.

“He always opened his home to anyone,” she said.

Her nephews were also good men, Espinoza said. Jeremy Sandoval leaves behind a wife and young son, CNN said.

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