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CA: LAPD Gang Unit

Source: Robert Nickelsberg / Getty

A Florida man was shot and killed on Sunday following the homophobic rants of a man outside of a restaurant. According to witnesses, Juan Javier Cruz was killed for defending his gay friends.

Cruz was leaving Restaurante y Pupuseria Las Flores with a group of friends when a man  approached the group. According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report, he started shouting, “I hate you damn gays. I’m going to kill you all here. If we were in my country, I’d kill all of you like rats.”  The man was from Honduras.

Shortly after the man’s threats, witnesses said he pulled out a handgun and started shooting. According to HuffPost.com, “Cruz stepped forward to defend his friends and was shot and killed, the witnesses said.” A bullet hit another unidentified man in the ankle. Cruz was only 22 years old.

The reported shooter was identified as Nelson Hernandez Mena. He is 48 years old. He was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault with a firearm, according to the Palm Beach Post. Mena told officers that he drank 15 to 20 beers and was “very drunk” before the shooting. On Monday, a judge had Mena held without bail. It is yet to be known if he’ll be charged with a hate crime.

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