Joseph Torres, a 34-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and a father of three children, was shot and killed early on Sunday morning in Orlando, Fla.
On Wednesday, police in Orlando arrested a suspect, 25-year-old Shaun Engram Jr., in connection with the shooting. Engram was identified as a Marine veteran who served for three years and had a minimal criminal history. Officials announced the updates in a Thursday press conference.
The shooting incident took place at around 2 a.m. on Sunday when Torres was walking on a sidewalk after going to get some empanadas. Security footage from the sidewalk showed Torres walking past a group of people gathered on the sidewalk.
Orlando police Detective Teresa Sprague said the group blocked Torres’ path. After a brief exchange, the group then began to attack Torres.
“Some words were exchanged, very minimum words were exchanged, this whole thing popped off in a matter of seconds,” Sprague said.
Sprague told Military.com that the group around Engram “turned on” Torres, starting to beat him up, before Engram allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot Torres four times.
“We want to think there’s more to this than he just walked through the crowd,” Sprague told Military.com. “… This is honestly all Mr. Torres did. … He did nothing wrong.”
Torres and Engram reportedly have any prior interactions.
Police Lt. Frank Chisari, who leads OPD’s homicide unit, said Engram’s actions were a “brazen act of violence.”
Sprague said Torres had purchased a gold dress for his daughter’s fourth birthday. “He didn’t get a chance to give it to her.”
WKMG reported Torres’ friend was appalled at hearing the shooting suspect was also a veteran.
“He was supposed to have honor and respect for just humans period, and for that to happen, it’s just unfortunate that another veteran does that to another veteran,” Garcia said. “You don’t get a pass for killing someone senselessly. That did not have to happen at all.”
Numerous onlookers, gathered in groups around the sidewalk, reportedly watched the attack unfold and after seeing Torres on the ground after being shot, they recorded the incident rather than trying to render aid.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon raised concern about similar kinds of killings, not just in Orlando but in other cities around the country.
“It’s not a situation where we have labeled it as a trend where the same groups or groups. These are individuals, some without, in this case in particular, without a criminal history that is significant or concerning, right?” Rolon said. “So, I think the bigger question is, ‘What is driving some individuals to take these type of actions against others?’”