South Florida man shot dead after standing up for gay friends

By : Staff Report
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Nelson Hernandez Mena

A Florida man was murdered outside a Lake Worth restaurant after one of the other patrons threatened his friends for being gay, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The fatal incident occurred after midnight Aug. 6 in front of Restaurante Y Pupuseria Las Flores, a Salvadoran restaurant in Lake Worth, a witness told police.

Several witnesses reported that 48-year-old Nelson Hernandez Mena came after a group leaving the restaurant and shouted, “If we were in my country I’d kill all of you like rats. I hate you damned gays. I’m going to kill you all here.”

The victim, Juan Javier Cruz, 22, reportedly stood up to Mena, who then pulled a handgun from his pants and began shooting.

Mena fatally shot Cruz and shot a bystander in the ankle. Mena admitted to police that he consumed between 15 and 20 beers prior to the incident.

The bystander later told police that he had asked Mena’s friend for his phone number earlier and believed that was what made him angry.

Mena was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Mena made his first appearance in court Aug. 7 and was denied bond by Judge Dina Keever-Agrama. Members of Cruz’s family also appeared in court with hopes that the judge would “do the right thing” and send Mena to jail, said Cruz’s cousin Brenda Carballo.

Mena claimed that Cruz was not the intended target of his gunfire, and that he “never meant to hurt anyone.”

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