A maintenance worker in Texas was checking for frozen and burst pipes at an apartment complex on Christmas Eve when he was fatally shot by a resident who mistook him for a burglar, police said.
Cesar Montelongo Sr., 53, was on a balcony when he was critically wounded by a shooter who fired from a window, Grand Prairie police said in a Monday statement.
The shooting occurred about 6 p.m. Saturday at an apartment complex on the 2900 block of Alouette Drive. Montelongo was declared dead at a hospital, police said.
“Detectives determined the victim was checking multiple balconies for freezing and busted waterlines after several pipes had ruptured,” police said. “The resident, who believed his apartment was being burglarized, armed himself with a firearm and shot the victim through a window.”
Police also said: “The resident remained at the scene and is cooperating with detectives. At this time, no arrests have been made.”
Cesar Montelongo Jr., 28, of Arlington, said Wednesday that his father was the head maintenance worker at the Clayton Pointe complex in Grand Prairie, a suburb of Dallas, where he was fatally shot.
“Come to find out it was not just one bullet that was fired, but four,” he said. “He wasn’t doing anything malicious. He wasn’t even trying to open the balcony door. He wasn’t trying to get into the apartment. My dad was employed there for 16 years. All of the residents knew him, and he knew all the residents, as well.”
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said Montelongo Sr. died from a gunshot wound to his chest and declared his death a homicide.
NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported that defense attorney Russell Wilson, a former prosecutor who is not associated with the case, said the Castle Doctrine, a law that allows homeowners to defend their properties, in this case against an anticipated burglary, could apply in the shooting. Wilson said the property may extend to the balcony.
However, the biggest question is whether the resident was given notice that there would be maintenance work on his property, Wilson said. He said the answer would “play a very big role,” the station reported.
No one with Clayton Pointe could immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Montelongo Jr. said his father was on call on Christmas Eve, which was the day before his 29th wedding anniversary. Montelongo Jr. is the oldest of five sons his father leaves behind.
Montelongo Jr. described his dad as “selfless” and said he preferred to live life smiling.
“Everywhere he walked, he was just a light,” he said. “He always had a smile on his face. He didn’t enjoy being upset. He was somebody who would never want to hurt anybody.”
Montelongo Jr. said his mother has been “devastated,” noting, “He never made it home to the anniversary.”
Montelongo Jr. also said that his father’s shooting could have “100%” been avoided but that he’s trying to keep things in perspective.
“We’ve been praying a lot and trying to find peace within each other as a family,” he said. “Believing in the Lord, we forgive the person who did it. As far as what is to come, that will be determined by a grand jury and the good Lord himself."