KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — One of the two men accused of opening fire inside a Kansas bar early Sunday, killing four people and wounding five others, was arrested Sunday afternoon while the other remained at large, police said.
Javier Alatorre, 23, and Hugo Villanueva-Morales, 29, were each charged with four counts of first-degree murder, police in Kansas City, Kansas, said in an early Monday release. Alatorre was arrested late Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, Missouri, but police were still looking for Villanueva-Morales, who is considered “armed and dangerous.” Bail for each was set at $1 million.
Surveillance video shows Villanueva-Morales entering the Tequila KC bar, where he got into an argument and was told to leave late Saturday, police spokesman Officer Thomas Tomasic said. It wasn’t clear whether Alatorre also was in the bar during the disagreement. Both men returned about two hours later and opened fire early Sunday, Tomasic said. Police weren’t releasing the video of the shooting.
Bartender Jose Valdez told The Kansas City Star that he had refused to serve one of the suspects on Saturday night because the man had previously caused problems at the bar. Valdez said the man threw a cup at him and left, but returned later with another man shortly before closing time.
Around 40 people were inside the small bar when gunfire erupted, Tomasic said. The gunfire sent people running for the exits, with the injured leaving trails of blood as they fled. Two of the wounded have been treated and released and three others are hospitalized in stable condition, Tomasic said.
Valdez said he thought the building was “going to cave in” and that three of the people killed were regulars whose parents also frequented the neighborhood bar.
“I don’t know what to make of it. A sad day for everybody who lost their lives and their families,” he said, choking up. “How can you go into a place full of people and just start shooting?”
Alatorre is currently jailed in Missouri after he was arrested without incident at a home that court records listed as his place of residence. Kansas City, Missouri, police, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted in the arrest, Tomasic said.
He will have a first appearance in coming days in Kansas, said Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Jonathan Carter. Alatorre doesn’t yet have an attorney. Carter said it’s too soon to determine whether prosecutors will consider the death penalty in the case.
Villanueva-Morales and Alatorre each faced criminal charges in Missouri, and Alatorre’s criminal record also included previous convictions, according to online court records in Missouri and online Department of Corrections records in Kansas.
Villanueva-Morales had a pending third-degree assault charge in Missouri. A detective wrote in the probable cause statement that after an unidentified man was ordered in August to leave a club “due to unruly behavior,” he returned with Villanueva-Morales, who started “yelling profanity.” An off-duty sheriff’s deputy who was working in the area told Villanueva-Morales to leave.
The detective wrote that Villanueva-Morales then told the deputy that he should “take off his badge” before he “balled up his fist,” grabbed the deputy’s uniform and “targeted his face with closed fist punches.” The detective wrote that the deputy eventually was able to handcuff Villanueva-Morales after a struggle that left both of the men bloodied. He said Villanueva-Morales then “spat blood into the face” of the deputy and a bystander who helped get him into a patrol car.
Alatorre, meanwhile, had past convictions for fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement in Kansas and for driving while intoxicated in Missouri. He also had pending charges in Missouri for tampering with a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and resisting or interfering with arrest, detention or stop. Court documents describe one chase in which he weaved in and out of traffic on Interstate 70 in a stolen vehicle while reaching speeds of 100 mph (161 kph).
And in 2017, an order of protection barred him from abusing, stalking and possessing a firearm. A woman who had a child with Alatorre wrote in a petition seeking the order that Alatorre “grabbed me by my throat and threw me on the floor, twisted my arm, threatened to kill me, said I was going to end up dead.” She said he also flipped mattresses and hit her and her daughter. She said he ultimately “slammed me down on my daughter’s walker, causing the walker to break.” The order expired in February 2018.
Alatorre’s mother, Teresa Minerva Alatorre, declined to comment when reached by phone.
All four men who were killed were Hispanic, but Tomasic had said authorities did not believe the shooting was racially motivated. The shooting happened in a neighborhood with a large Hispanic population.
Among the dead was a man in his late 50s, another in his mid-30s and two in their mid-20s, police said. Authorities did not immediately release their names.
However, Juan Ramirez, of Kansas City, Kansas, told the newspaper that his 29-year-old nephew was among those killed. He said his nephew left behind a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.
“I don’t wish this upon anybody,” Ramirez said.
The state’s congregational delegation also weighed in, with Republican Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts and Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids describing the shooting as “senseless.”