This Man Paid The Ultimate Price
Juan Javier Cruz, 22, and his friends were leaving a Salvadoran restaurant in Lakewood, Florida, when they were confronted by Nelson Hernandez Mena, who allegedly shot Cruz after yelling:
“I hate you damned gays, I’m going to kill you all here. If we were in my country I’d kill you all like rats.
At this point, Cruz stood up to Mena, who pulled out a gun and allegedly opened fire, killing Cruz and wounding a bystander in the ankle, Raw Story reports.
Mena, 48, was subsequently arrested and charged with alleged first-degree murder and appeared in court early Monday. He later confessed he drank as many as 15-20 beers that night.
Judge Deena Keever-Agrama denied bond on Monday. Cruz’s family appeared in court, hoping that the judge would “do the right thing” and throw Mena in jail, said Cruz’s cousin Brenda Caballo said.
One witness told the Post that he thinks Mena began shooting after he (the witness) asked one friend who accompanied Mena for his phone number.
Mena claims that he “never meant to hurt anyone” and that he wasn’t trying to shoot Cruz. Both men were in groups of friends who were at the restaurant that night.
The shooting occurred just after 12:30 a.m., local time, in front of Restaurante Y Pupuseria Las Flores, which is right across the street from City Hall, said Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera.
Neighbors who were jolted awake by the shooting said this is normally a quiet area and shootings aren’t common here.
Local Mark Beems noted:
“We walk around downtown all the time and feel safe.”
Another neighbor, who didn’t want to be named, rousted from sleep by three shots that were fired, accompanied by screaming. He peeked out the window and saw multiple people running from the scene. This was definitely a shock for him, and he added:
“I wouldn’t expect (a shooting) to be right here.”
Mena lives in Lake Worth and was also charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a firearm, Barbera said.
This is barely a year after the horrific massacre of dozens of people at an Orlando gay nightclub and this shooting serves as a stark reminder that not much has changed in this time.
The election of President Donald Trump has caused hate groups to proliferate, the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, as many members of the alt-right see this his election as permission to carry out their cruel agendas.
One such hate group is the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom. Leaders of this legal advocacy group continually demonize LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia and calling them “evil.” The group claims they are a threat to children and society and blames them for the “persecution of devout Christians.”
The group also supports the criminalization of homosexuality in several countries, and when you consider that gay people are being routinely incarcerated and tortured in Chechnya, this is particularly horrifying.
I don’t know anything about Nelson Hernandez Mena. I know nothing of his politics. But I know he very likely committed an atrocity. At the very least, I know that.
Screenshot Via WPBF News.