Teen dies from gunshot to head

SAN BENITO — A 17-year-old San Benito boy was attending a “get together” early yesterday morning when he was fatally shot in the head.

A friend was handling a .40-caliber pistol when the gun went off, striking Devin Leal in the head, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The friend, Jonathan Gamez, 21, who lives outside San Benito, turned himself in to police yesterday afternoon and was charged with manslaughter, a second-degree felony.

“It was an unfortunate incident,” Police Chief Michael Galvan said. “I can’t go into too many details. All I can tell you is he (Gamez) was handling the gun at the time the gun discharged.”

Leal was attending a “get together” at the home of a family member of Gamez early yesterday morning, Galvan said.

“It was a get together. They were hanging out when this happened,” Galvan said.

Police received a call about the shooting in the 500 block of Doherty Street at 3:15 a.m.

Through investigation and witness statements, police learned that Gamez had been at the home.

The investigation led police to the homes of Gamez family members outside city limits. The San Benito police SWAT team was assisted by the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team in the search.

A San Benito police detective also negotiated with Gamez family members by phone for his surrender.

Gamez was accompanied by family members when he surrendered to police about 1:20 p.m.

“He readily admitted to handling the weapon when it discharged, striking Mr. Leal,” Galvan said.

A municipal judge set Gamez’s bond at $300,000 and he was taken to the Cameron County jail.

Asked whether the shooting was an accident, Galvan said, “I don’t want to disclose too much.”

He also declined comment when asked whether alcohol was a factor.

“It was a tragic incident,” he said. “Our hearts and prayers are with the family at this time.”

The chief reminded the public to be careful around weapons.

“Gun safety is very important. Any kind of weapon, anything that you handle that is dangerous, you should be very proficient before you start handling it. And you should be very careful,” Galvan said.