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Teen charged after deadly shooting, tells police ‘it was a plain accident’

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 2:39 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2022 at 2:47 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock police have charged a 17-year-old with criminally negligent homicide in the shooting death of 17-year-old Austin Cruz, following what was believed to be an accidental shooting on Jan. 13.

Information from police documents is now providing new details from the morning of the incident.

Lubbock police responded to a shots fired call in the 4900 block of 9th Street on Jan. 13 at 9:04 a.m. The caller said someone had been shot and the gun “went off by accident.”

Officers arriving on scene reported Cruz was unresponsive and bleeding, being loaded onto a gurney by EMS. Police reports say 17-year-old Jaden Montelongo and a friend on scene at the time of the shooting were crying and “highly emotional.”

Officers followed EMS to University Medical Center, where they say UMC medical staff worked diligently to save Cruz’s life, but he was pronounced deceased at 9:37 a.m.

Officers spoke to Montelongo outside the home, where the report states it took some time for him to gain his composure, before telling officers he and Cruz and their friend were hanging out in the bedroom when Cruz was shot.

Montelongo told police a handgun was being stored between the mattress and the box spring. When Montelongo sat down on the bed, the others heard a “pop,” and saw Cruz with a gunshot wound to his mouth. Their friend told police she was on the bed looking at her cell phone when she heard the shot and saw Cruz wounded.

Montelongo and the friend were interviewed by investigators with the LPD Metro Special Crimes Unit, who were told the gun had gone off accidentally. The friend, a female whose name is redacted in the report, told police she had seen Montelongo and Cruz taking pictures with the gun before, and she knew the gun had been stored under the mattress.

Police were told Cruz had recently been speaking to a female relative of Montelongo’s, who got “a little upset” and protective, asking Cruz to stop. In the report, police were told Cruz and Montelongo had been playing around with the gun and pointing it at each other.

Montelongo told police he and another friend had gone to shoot the firearm in a field before school the day before the incident. He told police he felt like he had to have the gun to protect his home and his family.

He and Cruz had been walking in a park where Cruz had been talking on the phone to Montelongo’s relative. The day of the incident, Cruz was on the floor talking to Montelongo’s relative on the phone when Montelongo stated he sat on the bed and the gun went off.

Investigators interviewing Montelongo told him there were no marks or burns from a bullet or an ejected shell casing under the mattress. Detectives asked Montelongo to tell the truth of what happened.

In the report, Montelongo stated: “So, just tell you the truth?” The detective replied, “absolutely.”

Montelongo then told police he had taken the gun from under the bed and pointed it at Cruz, saying he removed the magazine and checked for a bullet, but the gun went off. Montelongo said he and Cruz were like brothers, telling detectives they had “been through hell and back” together. He knew Cruz liked his relative, and said he just wanted Cruz “to treat her right.” In the report, Montelongo told detectives “it was a plain accident.”

Family members of Cruz and Montelongo were interviewed by police, saying they had seen the two with the gun before and had told Montelongo to get rid of it.

According to police, a warrant for criminally negligent homicide was issued for Montelongo, who turned himself into the Lubbock County Detention Center Tuesday night. He was booked into the center and is being held on a $50,000 bond.

17-year-old Jaden Montelongo turned himself into the Lubbock County Detention Center at...
17-year-old Jaden Montelongo turned himself into the Lubbock County Detention Center at approximately 8:30 p.m. January 25. He was booked into the center and is being held on $50,000 bond.(Lubbock County Sheriff's Office)

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