What apparently started as a friendly barbecue between neighbors at 1004 1/2 Prince Street ended in gunfire and two deaths after a pair of men argued over local gangs, Clovis Police Chief Steve Sanders said Wednesday.
Sanders identified the victims killed Tuesday evening as Joe Valero, 44, and Lupita Casteneda, 25, of Clovis. Family members said the two were a couple.
Sanders said Enrique Deleon, 25, is charged with murder and child endangerment, accused of killing Valero and Casteneda in a hail of gunfire outside their home while several children were present at the barbecue.
Sanders said alcohol “definitely had an influence” and adults were drinking beer.
“Any time you mix alcohol with firearms,” said Sanders, “bad things are going to happen.”
Sanders said Deleon and Valero argued at the party held outside the couple’s apartment. He said the argument was about local gangs “they may or may not have affiliated themselves with.”
The argument escalated into a fist fight between the pair. Deleon eventually left the party for his residence next door, returning with a .45 caliber handgun and opening fire, Sanders said.
Police received initial reports of gunfire about 8:45 p.m.
Valero was dead at the scene, Sanders said. Casteneda was taken to Plains Regional Medical Center and died later at a Lubbock hospital, where she was transported by EMS ambulance crews, Sanders said.
Sanders declined to discuss details of the victim’s injuries, saying police are awaiting results of autopsies. He also said police still aren’t sure what specifically Deleon and Valero were arguing about regarding local gangs.
Sanders also said the double homicide isn’t an indication that Clovis has a gang problem.
“These folks come from other parts of the country,” Sanders said. “They’ve obviously got backgrounds. They’re at a barbecue visiting about their past and this is what broke out.”
Sanders declined to discuss the backgrounds of Deleon and Valero, adding he wasn’t sure how long either man had been living in Clovis.
Sanders said the apartment Valero and Casteneda shared is behind a house and next door to Deleon’s residence. The shooting took place in the yard between the house and the apartment at 1004 1/2, he said.
Sanders said neither the children present when shooting erupted nor other adults attending the party were injured.
Tuesday’s homicides were the first in Clovis this year and the first in Curry County since April.
Daniel Perez, 26, of Clovis, was shot in the head in the 900 block of South Valley Road on April 13. He died April 19.
A 30-year-old Clovis man, Louis Guerra, was charged with murder in connection with the Perez slaying, which police said occurred during a fight between rival gang members.
Clovis had two homicides in 2010, police records show.