WESLACO — The man accused of shooting a doctor in November was recruited the same day the fatal robbery turned into a murder in a matter of minutes.
Weslaco Police Chief Joel Rivera announced that investigators tracked down Alamo residents Joel Ismael Gonzalez, 17, Josue Benavides Torres, 31, and Weslaco resident Luis Antonio Lopez Valenzuela, 19, between Jan. 3 and Jan. 8 after a tip from a sharp-eyed Runnels County deputy sheriff helped crack the case.
The trio is accused of murdering Dr. John Jesus Dominguez on Nov. 7 during an attempt to steal $25,000 in cash they believed he kept in a briefcase in his car, according to probable cause affidavits.
On the afternoon of the killing, Weslaco police initially reported they were responding to a two-vehicle fatal collision on Business 83 in Weslaco.
Investigators quickly realized, however, that they were instead dealing with something more than a tragic wreck.
“While at the crash scene, witnesses to the shooting lead police to where the shooting occurred,” according to the charging document.
But a month would pass before investigators received a tip from an investigator working a home invasion case nearly 500 miles away from Weslaco in Runnels County, which is near San Angelo — a tip that would open a floodgate of clues leading to the arrests.
The Runnels County Sheriff’s Department opened the investigation after a person whose name is redacted in the probable cause affidavits chased down a dark blue Hyundai Sonata the person believed was driven by a man named Eduardo Torres. The man said they suspected Torres of assaulting and robbing his coworkers of $12,500.
According to the affidavit, the victims identified Torres, their former coworker, as the potential robbery suspect when they recognized his voice
“This person finds Torres and crashes into the Dark Blue Sonata, disabling the vehicle while Torres and his girlfriend Emily Hinojosa flee the scene on foot,” the affidavit stated.
At this point, the Runnels deputy sheriffs began interviewing victims and witnesses of the home invasion, which took place inside a bunkhouse at a gin on Dec. 6, 2019.
During one of those interviews, a person whose name is redacted told police the vehicle was given to Torres to hide because it had been used in the Weslaco shooting, according to the charging document.
Torres’ brother, according to the affidavit, is Gonzalez, the shooter who Benavides recruited to conduct the robbery on Nov. 7, 2019.
After receiving the tip from Runnels deputies, Weslaco police investigators finally had a suspect vehicle and witnesses pointing fingers at a suspect: Gonzalez — the alleged shooter.
As for motive, Rivera said during a Jan. 6 press conference that Benavides received information about Dominguez from a “curandero,” with whom he had a connection.
The probable cause affidavit states that Benavides, who police have described as the mastermind of the robbery, was recruited to secure money from Dominguez.
“Benavides states that he was approached to secure this money by some force using threats of exposure to prior bad acts he committed with the person that contracted him, identified by Benavides as [redacted],” the charging document stated. “Benavides states he recruits both Joel Gonzalez and the Driver, who he identifies as Luis, to be the ones to make contact with the Doctor and extort the money from him by force.”
Rivera said during a press conference that police expected one more arrest, but Weslaco police spokesman Eric Hernandez said Wednesday that though the arrest was possible, no other arrests have been made.
Benavides also told investigators he never knew Gonzalez had a weapon and that he never authorized the use of a weapon.
That statement, however, conflicts with what Gonzalez told investigators. He told investigators that the person who recruited him, Benavides, provided him with the weapon, according to the probable cause affidavit.
As for Gonzalez, he thought he would earn $40,000 by committing the robbery.
He never received a cent, according to the probable cause affidavit.
All three remain jailed on $1 million in bonds.