As police searched for a murder suspect, witnesses said a Carson City man shot and killed early Tuesday morning was a bystander in the dispute.
A warrant was issued at 6 p.m. Tuesday for Maximilion "Dagger" Cisneros, 22, who police say fired three shots that killed Juan Carlos Alegria.
Alegria, who would have turned 24 on Thursday, died on the way to Washoe Medical Center after being shot in the chest and stomach in the 300 block of Eighth Street in West Carson City.
A woman who witnessed most of the midnight confrontation said Alegria was standing in the front yard while his friend Fidel "PeeWee" Fuentes, 22, banged on the windows and door of a ground-floor apartment trying to get his ex-girlfriend Katie Armstrong to answer.
Another man was in the apartment at the time, Sheriff Kenny Furlong said.
A short time later, the witness, who lives nearby and asked not to be identified, said she could hear Fuentes kick in Armstrong's door. She saw Armstrong running from the apartment and Fuentes making his way to the back bedroom.
A short time later, Fuentes was back in the front yard standing near Alegria when a third man stepped from the apartment and pulled something from behind his back.
"It was a gun, and before I even turned to get into my house he fired shots," she said. "I saw the gun and I wanted to get out of there."
Alegria, standing closest to the shooter, was hit with three rounds from a .40-caliber handgun, according to police. He stumbled about seven feet before collapsing beneath a juniper bush. Fuentes was hit once above the right knee.
While the witness, her grandmother and three children cowered inside their home, they could hear Armstrong screaming for Fuentes to run.
No one saw the shooter leave, the woman said.
Investigators said Armstrong was unable to provide information on the shooter. She knew him only by a nickname, according to police.
The sheriff's mounted posse began searching about 4 a.m. in playgrounds and parking lots in an attempt to locate a gun should the shooter have tossed it, Furlong said. Deputies and troopers scoured the streets for hours, unable to locate the suspect or the weapon, Furlong said.
Every detective in the department was following up leads or interviewing witnesses Tuesday. Most worked at least 12 hours before taking a break, he said.
From 12:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., yellow crime-scene tape blocked traffic entering Eighth Street at Division and Nevada streets. By 10 a.m., the apartment had been sealed for forensic examination, and the crime-scene tape surrounded only the entrance to that apartment.
"(Alegria) was innocent. He had nothing to do with anything," the witness said. "Look what happens. Some poor little dude got shot over nothing."
Armstrong's next-door neighbor came to the aid of the mortally wounded Alegria, comforting him as he lay with his head on the concrete. Armstrong asked for a towel to try to stop his bleeding. Eventually he lost conscious, according to the neighbor.
"It took so long for the police to get here," a witness said.
"Or maybe it just felt like that," another replied.
The first 911 call came in at 10 seconds after 12:14 a.m. The first deputy arrived on scene 1 minute and 48 seconds later, according to dispatch logs.
Brian Crossman, 28, said he heard the shots while in his apartment a block south.
"It sounded like it happened in my back yard," he recalled standing with his brother Patrick in a casino parking lot near the apartment about 1:30 a.m. "I can't take this. My wife's up making a bottle for my newborn son and I hear five shots."
Crossman said he called 911 immediately and could hear through his back bedroom window people outside moaning.
"There was a girl that was hysterical," he recalled. "She screamed, 'He's shot somebody! Call 911!' Then I heard one of the guys saying, 'I'm shot too.' And then 'I'm falling asleep,' and the girl saying, 'Don't fall asleep. I'm with you.'"
Crossman shook his head solemnly and admitted he stayed inside his home until police arrived.
"I felt like I should do something," he said, sighing. "But what could I do?"
Carson City deputies on Tuesday afternoon released a photograph of Cisneros who they believe may have visited Armstrong prior to the shooting. He is shown on surveillance video taken from the AM/PM Mini Mart at the corner of Eighth and Carson streets three blocks from the apartment complex where the shooting took place. The video shows Cisneros and an unidentified man entering the store just before the shooting.
"We have the maximum amount of people available to work this case. I feel confident that we will be able to conclude this investigation," Furlong said.
A funeral service for Alegria, a U.S. Navy veteran, will be held Thursday at Walton's Chapel of the Valley. He is survived by his parents, Jose Daniel and Lucila Ramirez Alegria; sisters Socorro and Alba and brothers Jose, Gerardo and Rene.
Alegria, a native of San Salvador, El Salvador, and his father worked for Radtke Tile and Marble.
Patrick Crossman, 34, who has lived here since 1978, said he was surprised to see a shooting on Carson City's west side.
"It used to be, there's no problems on this side of (Highway) 395," he said.
Contact F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.