Investigations

Four Men Killed at Toddler’s Birthday Party

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(Meagan Falcon Twitter)

TAFT, Texas – At least four men were killed and another was injured Saturday after a shooting at a toddler’s birthday party in southern Texas, police said. Authorities launched a manhunt for two suspects who fled the scene after the shooting occurred.

The evening began when two families gathered at a home in Taft, 12 miles north of Corpus Christi, just after 5 p.m. Saturday for a child’s first birthday party. But it erupted in deadly violence when an altercation ensued, Corpus Christi Caller Times reported.

Consequently, the shooters opened fire, killing four men at the party. Another man was taken to the hospital.

“Four adult males were found dead on scene,” Sgt. Nathan Brandley, the spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said. “The fifth male was HALO-Flighted to Christus Spohn Hospital Shoreline.”

“The Texas Rangers notified the department of the incident and as of right now this is an ongoing investigation,” Brandley told reporters. “We are urging residents to contact DPS if they know any information on the shooting.”

In a recent update, Brandley said 20-year-old Ronnie Rodriguez Jr. was taken into custody at his home in Taft by state troopers early Sunday morning. Rodriguez’s father — Ronnie Sr., 37 — is also wanted in connection with the fatal shooting, and is being sought by law enforcement, Brandley said.

Authorities continue to search for the Rodriguez Sr. It’s unclear what the argument was about that sparked the shooting.

The victims were identified Sunday as Juan Espinoza Sr., 62; Juan Sandoval III, 20; Jeremy Sandoval, 22; and Nicky Sandoval, 25. The Sandovals were Espinoza’s grandsons, while his son — Juan Espinoza Jr., 43 — was listed in critical, but stable, condition at Christus Spohn.

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Sgt. Nathan Brandley briefs the press following a quadruple homicide. (Meagan Falcon Twitter)

Juan Espinoza Jr. is expected to survive his injuries, Brandley said.

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