Fort Worth

Last week deadliest so far this year in Tarrant County

One man was stabbed to death on Oct. 22 at El Mil taco shop in Fort Worth.
One man was stabbed to death on Oct. 22 at El Mil taco shop in Fort Worth. SPECIAL/BOB HAYNES

Eight people died in homicides in Tarrant County last week, the most in a single week so far this year.

The slayings included a stabbing over a cocaine joke at a taco restaurant, a fatal shooting apparently sparked by a dispute over a car and three double slayings with motives still unknown.

The most in a week previously was seven March 12-19 and April 16-23, the Star-Telegram homicide database shows.

“It was a busier than normal week, we usually do not experience such a high rate of homicides,” the Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement. “There is nothing that the public needs to be aware of or needs to be extra cautious of.”

Overall, 120 homicides have been reported so far in Tarrant, Denton, Parker and Johnson counties this year, almost as many as the number for all of 2015, at 121. The average yearly total for the past 10 years is 112, with a high of 140 in 2012.

October ended with 14 total homicides in Tarrant, Denton, Parker and Johnson counties. March had 18, the most of any month in 2016.

Of the eight homicides last week, five were in Fort Worth, two in Arlington and one in Azle.

Saturday, Oct. 22

Man fatally stabbed over cocaine joke: Fort Worth police arrived to find a 20-year-old man with stab wounds just after 11 p.m. at the taco restaurant El Mil in the 4100 block of Hemphill Street.

The victim, Marco Cabrera, died from his wounds four days later at John Peter Smith Hospital.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Juan Ruben Gallegos, 25, was in line waiting for his food when Cabrera and his brother Jesus jokingly accused Gallegos of snorting cocaine, because he was sniffling.

Witnesses said Gallegos punched Jesus in face and then stabbed Marco in the neck with a pocket knife, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit stated Gallegos admitted to detectives that he had argued with the two men at the restaurant because of the cocaine/sniffling joke. He told police that he stabbed Marco while trying to defend himself, according to the affidavit.

“Based on the evidence learned during this investigation and the surveillance footage obtained, at no point was Juan Gallegos’ life in danger, and [he] was not justified in producing a deadly weapon,” homicide detective J. Cedillo wrote in the affidavit. “Juan Gallegos had every opportunity to walk away and furthermore he had an opportunity to drive away, but chose not to.”

Gallegos was arrested on a murder warrant two days after Cabrera died in the hospital. He remained in the Mansfield Jail Wednesday with bail set at $100,000.

Sunday, Oct. 23

Cary Heath, 35, was charged in the murder of two men in their 20s last week. Fort Worth Police Department Courtesy

Fort Worth double slaying: Just before 4 a.m. in the 800 block of Buffalo Springs Drive, a woman called 911, reporting multiple shots had been fired.

Officers arrived shortly after to find Daniel Haros, 25, and Phillip Evans Garcia, 25, dead in the driveway.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Haros and Garcia had briefly stopped by at a neighbor’s party early Sunday, which neighbors Cary and Tiffany Heath also attended.

After a cordial conversation, the two victims left to return home while Cary Heath, 35, walked to his own house, states the affidavit. He then ran into a neighbor’s home, handed his 1-year-old baby to someone and said: “This is the last time I will see the baby. I killed two people.”

Cary Health was arrested the next day on a capital murder warrant at Permenter Middle School in Cedar Hill, where he was teaching eighth-grade science. Three days later, his 29-year-old wife, Tiffany Nicole Heath, was arrested on a warrant accusing her of tampering with evidence. She was later released after posting her $5,000 bond.

Cary Health was formally charged with capital murder/multiple victims, court records show. He remained in the Tarrant County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

Tuesday, Oct. 25

Tony Vincent Novello, 24, was arrested on accusations of murder last week. Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department Courtesy

Fatal shooting on Jacksboro Highway: Alec Puente, 22, was shot and killed just after 2 a.m. in the 7800 block of Jacksboro Highway. Later that evening, Tony Vincent Novello, 24, was named by police as a suspect in the shooting.

Around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, officers were undercover in the 3000 block of Las Vegas Trail trying to serve a warrant for Novello’s arrest when he tried to get away and Tarrant County officers shot him in the arm. He was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital and treated for a single gunshot wound.

The arrest warrant affidavit stated that the motive may have been an argument related to a dispute over a vehicle.

He remains in the Tarrant County Jail with bail set at $50,000.

Wednesday, Oct. 26

benge drive
Two men were found dead with gunshot wounds in an apartment in Arlington last week. GoogleMaps Courtesy

Two men found dead in Arlington: Two men were found dead in an apartment in the 1000 block of Benge Drive near the University of Texas at Arlington campus, police said.

Around 10 a.m., officers responded to a shooting call and arrived to find Jordyn Clemons, 20, and Johnathon Phillips, 25, dead with apparent gunshot wounds, a press release said.

According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s site, they both had multiple gunshot wounds. One was found in a desk chair while the other was found in a living room recliner.

As of Tuesday, police had not made any arrests in the case.

Saturday, Oct. 29

Two men were found dead at the Crest Oasis Apartments at the 4700 block of American Blvd in Fort Worth last week. GoogleMaps Courtesy

Two men shot to death in Fort Worth: Police responded to a shooting call just after 4 a.m. at the Crest Oasis Apartments in the 4700 block of American Boulevard.

Meldrick Grice, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene and Edwin Vation, 30, died of multiple gunshot wounds at a hospital just shortly after, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.

As of Tuesday, there had been no arrests or additional details released.

Homicides continue

A man shot his ex-wife and then himself Tuesday in Fort Worth. Mark David Smith Star-Telegram

Two more homicides have taken place so far this week, in the first two days of November. A woman was fatally stabbed outside a convenience store in Grand Prairie late Tuesday and a murder suicide took place in Fort Worth Wednesday morning.

Both incidents are under investigation.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Azia Branson; 817-390-7547, @aziabranson