Black teen shot by white man over fireworks, hundreds memorialize victim

Hundreds remembered Devonte Ortiz, shot on the Fourth of July in a dispute about fireworks.

(Photo: Fotolia)

The family and friends of 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz struggled to find the words at Travis High School as they remembered a life that was cut way too short. A white man shot the teen on the Fourth of July, reports the Statesman in Austin, Texas.

Prior to the slaying Ortiz and 41-year-old Jason Roche had words over fireworks that Ortiz and his friends were shooting off on the celebratory night.

Roche was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the shooting.

According to Austin police, Roche claims that he shot Ortiz in self-defense after getting into an argument. But police have cell phone video which contradicts that claim and shows a pistol-packing Roche brandishing his gun at Ortiz multiple times.

Roche reholsters his weapon, and then displays it again, according to the shooter’s arrest affidavit.

Roche’s father then tries to get involved as the argument escalated and there was “mutual shoving of each other,” the affidavit states.

Ortiz then allegedly pushed the father to the ground, that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

“Jason Roche responded by shooting Ortiz,” the affidavit says.

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“It’s senseless,” said one of Ortiz’s friends Myke Jones, according to the Statesman.

Some 400 people convened at Travis High School to reminisce about the former honor roll student and star football player.

“He always gave people good advice,” said friend 17-year-old Krishonna Jones. “If someone needed something, he’d always help them out.”

Jones is still having a difficult time processing her friend’s untimely death.

“This is not real,” she said. “He didn’t deserve to die.”

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Amber Garcia, Ortiz’s girlfriend, said she talked to him just 30 minutes before he died.

“He was so passionate and outgoing and so smart,” Garcia said tearfully.

“That boy gave me the world. He gave me the world. … I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”

Chas Moore, an activist with the Austin Justice Coalition, said Ortiz death reminded him of the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. He believes Roche is trying to use the same self-defense tactic that freed Martin’s killer George Zimmerman. In this case, he’s hoping for a different outcome.

“We will not sleep,” Moore said, until Roche is in prison.

GoFundMe account has been set up in Devonte Ortiz’s name.