SB 1070 Shooting? Phoenix Police Release Report on White-on-Brown South Phoenix Slaying Some Have Linked to SB 1070
A small memorial for Juan Varela at the site of his killing, nearby his house
The Phoenix Police Department has released its report on the May 6 fatal shooting of Juan Varela in South Phoenix, allegedly by his neighbor Gary Kelley.
Kelley, according to Varela's brother Antonio, did exclaim, "You fucking wetback! Go back to Mexico!" before fatally shooting Juan Varela in the chin with a .38 revolver.
Kelley, 50, remains in Maricopa County jail on a $750,000 bond, facing charges of second degree murder and aggravated assault. Sgt. Trent Crump of the Phoenix PD told me that investigators haven't ruled the killing out as a hate crime.
"We know that there were racial comments being made," Crump said. "We are uncertain as to whether or not race was the motivating factor."
Ironically, as I reported in a previous blog post, several Hispanic neighbors of Kelley I spoke with shortly after the killing referred to him as a "good guy" who had never uttered a racial or ethnic slur toward them.
The report states that a Hispanic resident who lived across from Kelley witnessed the incident, and cried out for Kelley not to shoot, as Kelley was pointing the gun at Varela.
"He watched the early evening news and observed statements made by the victim's family," according to the report. "He insisted the shooting was not a bias incident. He had known the suspect for years and had never heard a racial slur from him at any time."
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