ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – On the night of Thursday November 2, 12-Year-old Aleena Alvarez had just arrived to her aunts house on the 1600 block of Graham Street for a fun night with her cousins. Around 10:00 p.m., the simple sleepover turned into a life or death situation when multiple bullets were fired at the home, one catching Aleena in the neck.
“I was watching videos with my cousin… She had told me to get up and turn on the light so she could get the charger. And that’s when everything happened,” Aleena told KTAB/KRBC.
Her mother Amanda Rodriguez was just six blocks away. She said when she got the call, she immediately left for the scene. When she arrived, she found an image she won’t ever be able to forget.
“She was sitting on the porch and blood was just going everywhere from her neck down… I was yelling at one of the cops like. Are y’all gonna take her to the hospital or do I have to get her in my own car?” said Rodriguez.
Five suspects are now in custody. 17-year-old Elmer Rodriguez Jr., 17-year-old Nicholas Baker, and a minor whose identity is being withheld were apprehended that night. The following morning Abilene police arrested Jose Angel Morales Jr. and on November 16, 17-year-old Kacey Broughton was taken into custody. Rodriguez said that word of the fifth suspects arrest came as an answer to their prayers.
“She kept asking me, is he gonna get caught? I said yes baby we just have to pray and he’s gonna get caught… Oh we celebrated last night. Me and my two daughters we just were so happy in the living room. High fiving each other and saying thank God,” said Rodriguez.
The five suspects were questioned by police. An investigative report stated that the suspects claimed to have had three firearms, including an AR rifle and three pistols. At the scene, 30 shell casings were found in the alleyway outside the room.
The motive for the shooting was stated by the suspects as a ‘retaliation’ on an individual that had ‘pistol whipped’ Morales. The individual had lived in that home but the suspects did not know that person had moved out a month prior.
“These guys weren’t there to scare nobody. They were there to kill somebody. They got off the car through the alley and they shot. They wanted to kill somebody,” said Rodriguez.
While the fear of a suspect returning is no longer on their minds, the horror they experienced that night will follow them for the rest of their lives. Not to mention the physical side effects Aleena has suffered.
“She’s gonna live with a bullet in her for the rest of her life. And she’s gonna have problems with her left side for the rest of her life as well,” Rodriguez explained.
“I’m scared that it’s probably gonna happen again. I just don’t want it to happen again,” Aleena added.
That night, Aleena was care flighted to Cooks Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Her mother, unable to join her on the flight, raced through the night to Fort Worth with more fear and questions than answers.
“I didn’t want her to wake up and think that she was alone… When we got there she was sedated so I couldn’t ask her how she was or how she was feeling,” Rodriguez said.
Family members that live nearby were able to be there for Aleena while she was in the hospital and Rodriguez arrived about 46 minutes after the helicopter. Though Aleena was released from initial medical care, the bullet remains lodged in her spine and she is suffering from some nerve damage on the left side of her body. This injury necessitating possible occupational therapy to help restore manipulation to the affected body parts.
With these physical concerns in mind Aleena said she is worried she won’t be able to pursue her hobbies: Power lifting, volleyball, and learning the violin. Beyond that, the psychological damage she and her cousins have been through will take time to overcome.
“Why did it like, happen like, to me?” Aleena questioned.
Rodriguez, Baker, and Morales have been charged with second degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and Broughton with second degree aggravated assault.
All are being held in the Taylor County Jail, Rodriguez on bonds totaling $175,000, Baker on bonds totaling $165,000, Morales on bonds totaling $225,000, and Broughton on a $100,000 bond.