Rally held in support of teens charged in Pharr homicide
A group gathered at the Pharr Municipal Court on Wednesday night, calling for the release of three teens charged in the beating death of a man accused of sexually abusing a minor.
Police say 42-year-old Gabriel Quintanilla died after he was assaulted on three different occasions by the teens. Two brothers, 17-year-old Christian and 18-year-old Alejandro Treviño, and their friend, 18-year-old Juan Eduardo Melendez, beat Quintanilla to death and dumped his body in a field in McAllen after hearing that Quintanilla had inappropriately touched a younger family member, according to court records.
The trio faces charges of aggravated assault and engaging in criminal activity. Christian Treviño and Melendez also face capital murder charges.
Police say at the time of his death, Quintanilla had an arrest warrant out for a continuous abuse of a child charge stemming from an unrelated case reported to Pharr police in 2019.
Pharr police Chief Andy Harvey said officers weren't able to track Quintanilla down, and didn't know of his whereabouts until Quintanilla's body was found in a field by McAllen police on Jan. 20.
The group at Wednesday’s demonstration criticized the Pharr Police Department for not arresting Quintanilla sooner.
“It happened several times, you know,” said supporter Juanita Morales. “What are we supposed to do? Like, the Pharr department knew he was wanted and nothing ever happened. He was still wanted and they never got him.”
Some at the demonstration said they believe that the killing was justified, and a way to protect family.
“They’re doing it for a reason,” said supporter Lorenzo Huerta. “We know that he’s a hero with his brother and along with other friend and all we can do is just support them.”
“There definitely should’ve been a different ending to this," Huerta continued. "It shouldn’t have been really — there shouldn’t have been any violence, but you know, at the end of the day, you got to do what you got to do to protect your own.”
Organizers say a similar demonstration will be held Thursday evening, adding that the group is also beginning to raise money for the defense of the teens.
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