The relatives of two boys who were killed in their backyard by gunfire while playing with kittens were grieving as the authorities announced that two men had been charged for their deaths.
Jesus and Sebastian Perez Salome, 8 and 9 years old, and a third victim died in Lebanon on Tuesday night. A teenager and an adult were both charged with the shooting. Police said they are still looking for a third suspect.
Felix Muniz Torres, the uncle of the children who lives in Puerto Rico said that their mother heard shots while she was at work at a convenience store nearby.
He said that she ran to the scene and found them dead. Her 13-year-old daughter was at a school function.
Muniz Torres stated, “She is in shock and unable to talk coherently.”
He described his nephews, who were always playing together with their superhero figures, as “very innocent” and “polite”.
He said, “They were very near.”
At a press conference held in Lebanon, Lebanon County district attorney Pier Hess Graf announced that Alex Torres Santos and a 16-year-old boy were each charged with three counts criminal homicide. The two also face charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy, as well as weapons offenses, in relation to the shooting that took place in Lebanon, which is a small town in an agricultural area about 70 miles north-west of Philadelphia.
Authorities said that a third male was still on the run and would likely face charges similar to those in this case. Santos, who was under house arrest on several charges unrelated to the shooting, was wearing an ankle-monitor at the time.
Authorities said that a 33-year old neighbor who was injured by a stray gunshot underwent surgery. He is still hospitalized, but authorities expect him to recover.
The gunmen apparently shot at Joshua Lugo Perez, 19, over what the authorities described as “an earlier argument.” Lugo Perez and the other boys were not related.
Jesus Perez Salome was declared dead on the spot. Sebastian Perez Salome and Lugo Perez died at hospitals a few hours later.
Muniz Torres stated that the family would bring the boys to Puerto Rico for burial once the autopsies were completed. Muniz Torres expressed his gratitude for the donations and support that came in response to a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for their funeral.
The family came to the United States to pursue the American Dream of better opportunities than those offered on the Caribbean island. Life had not always been easy. Muniz Torres recalled that only a year before, the couple had lost all their possessions in an apartment fire caused by an electrical fault.
Santos was arrested by a SWAT team from Lebanon County on Wednesday at his apartment. Authorities stated that he tried to flee from the residence, but was caught there. The teenage suspect was then arrested in a nearby apartment as he tried to hide. Authorities said that ammunition and multiple firearms had been found in the apartment where Santos, a teenage suspect, was arrested.
Graf, Graf, district attorney said that it is possible that the suspects will face the death sentence, but this decision has yet to be made. It was not clear on Thursday whether either suspect had retained a lawyer, and court records weren’t immediately available.