Man in jail for murder after allegedly shooting teen

Stock file photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A local man is in jail on murder charges after allegedly shooting an 18-year-old Wednesday evening.

Nicanor Vasquez-Mendoza booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Aug. 15, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

At 6 p.m. officers were called out to a shooting reported on North 2700 East in St. George and arrived to find a man inside the mobile home suffering from a gunshot wound. The man was transported to the hospital but died shortly thereafter.

Detectives were dispatched to the residence and worked into the early morning hours Thursday processing the scene and collecting evidence. They learned that the 18-year-old victim was in a bedroom of the residence with six other individuals when he was shot.

Nicanor Vasquez-Mendoza and his girlfriend Silvia Lopez are tenants of the residence, and both were later arrested in connection with the murder and transported to jail.

Vasquez-Mendoza, of St. George, was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility and faces first-degree felony murder along with numerous other charges, including second-degree felony drug possession with intent to distribute, one third-degree felony count of aggravated assault, two third-degree felony counts of possession of a weapon by a restricted person and five third-degree felony counts of witness tampering.

Silvia Lopez booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Aug. 15, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Lopez, also from St. George, was booked into jail facing one second-degree felony count of obstructing justice as well as five third-degree felony counts of witness tampering.

At the time of the shooting, Lopez was in the living room when she heard a gunshot coming from inside the residence. She went toward the bedroom and saw several individuals running out of the room, including  Vasquez-Mendoza.

Lopez entered the bedroom to find a man on the floor bleeding from the head and a handgun on the floor next to the body. Using a white T-shirt she picked up the gun and placed it on the bed and then checked to see if the man was alive but “determined he was beyond help and she left the residence,” the officer noted in the report.

At that point, she allegedly confronted Vasquez-Mendoza, who told her to have the other individuals in the room “get their stories straight,” the report says, and to tell police the man was playing with the gun when he accidentally shot himself. Vasquez-Mendoza then left the residence.

Location of shooting incident that took place in St. George, Utah, Aug. 15, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Lopez allegedly told the others to tell police they saw nothing, as they were “busy looking at their telephones,” which is the story the group initially stuck to when interviewed by police.

The report states that Lopez was “very elusive and untruthful with officers” during questioning, including saying Vasquez-Mendoza was not in the bedroom when the shooting took place, denying ever speaking to him after the shooting and also denying telling the others to get their stories straight or telling them what to say. Police say she later admitted these claims were untruthful.

Vasquez-Mendoza was stopped in his vehicle by responding officers and brought back to the residence before being placed under arrest.

Both suspects remain in jail as this report publishes.

This is a developing story.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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