LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas – A man has been arrested by the Liberty County Sheriff's Office after authorities say a man was lured out of his home and shot to death Sunday morning.
Melvin Adalberto Morales-Rivas, 28, was arrested Monday and charged with murder in the death of Vincente Rodriquez, 45. Deputies said Morales-Rivas turned himself in around 2:30 a.m. after a warrant for murder was issued for his arrest.
Investigators believe that the shooting was over a Weed Eater belonging to Morales-Rivas that was in Rodriguez's possession.
According to police, Rodriguez was shot multiple times at his home in the Bella Vista subdivision in north Liberty County.
Police said Rodriguez was lured outside when his van was set on fire.
Rodriguez’s wife told investigators that she and her husband were awakened around midnight Sunday by someone pounding on their front door.
When she answered the door, a Hispanic male, later identified as Erwin Antonio Donis-Morales, 40, asked her about buying a lawn mower that was for sale. She saw their van on fire and called for her husband to get a fire extinguisher.
As Rodriguez ran outside, Morales-Rivas shot him multiple times, authorities said.
Deputies said Morales-Rivas and Donis-Morales drove off in separate vehicles, one in a white, older model Ford and the other in a light-colored Chevrolet with what appeared to be a “fleck” paint job.
Deputies said Donis-Morales, 40, went to the sheriff’s office around 6 p.m. Sunday and told deputies that he was with Morales-Rivas during the shooting. Donis-Morales had his own .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol with him and turned it over to investigators, saying it was the gun used in the shooting, deputies said.
Investigators took Donis-Morales' statement about his part in the shooting, and a warrant was issued for
Rodriguez's wife said her husband found the Weed Eater on the side of the road and brought it home.
Donis-Morales told investigators that he and Morales-Rivas were partners in a lawn care business and that Morales-Rivas suggested that they get the Weed Eater from Rodriguez. Donis-Morales said they planned only to talk to Rodriguez about the Weed Eater and try to get him to return it.
Donis-Morales, who has a concealed carry license, said he left his pistol on the seat of his car when he went to talk to Rodriguez. While he was talking to Rodriguez's wife, he said the van suddenly burst into flames, and when Rodriguez ran out of the home to extinguish the fire, Morales-Rivas shot Rodriguez,
Donis-Morales said. He said he had nothing to do with the fire or the shooting, deputies said.
Donis-Morales was released without charges.
Deputies said that when Morales-Rivas was arrested, he claimed that he did not shoot Rodriguez.
Morales-Rivas was taken to the Liberty County jail. Investigators said he has been deported from the United States before and it is unknown when he re-entered the country, so he is also on an ICE hold.
The investigation is continuing. Deputies will determine whether arson charges for the burning of the vehicle will be included.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at 936-336-4500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP (7867).