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Straight ally shot protecting gay cousin

Juan Javier Cruz, 22, died while trying to protect his gay cousin reports say.
Photo credit:
GoFundMe

A straight ally was shot and killed as he defended his gay cousin from a gunman in Lake Worth Florida on Saturday.

Witnesses heard the shooter, Nelson Hernandez Mena, yelling homophobic and hate speech before using the firearm, the arrest report states.

Another person was also injured during the shooting.

The mother of the deceased victim, 22-year-old Juan Cruz, says her son was killed trying to shield his cousin who was targeted for being gay.

It happened at Las Flores Restaurant near Lake Worth City Hall after a group of friends including Cruz and his cousin left the building. They also reported that Mena had been looking at them angrily while they were inside. 

After the restaurant closed the group went outside and was approached by Mena who said, "If we were in my country, I'd kill all of you like rats”

Reports also say Mena didn’t stop there with the hate speech, saying “I hate you damned gays,  I'm going to kill you all here," before taking out a gun from his waistband.

"He did it out of vengeance," said Amanda Cruz, Juan's mother, in Spanish,  "He needs to pay for what he did so he won't be racist because it does not matter if someone is gay, lesbian, whatever; we are all humans and we need to respect the decisions of others."

 "He is traumatized, he can't sleep," added Amanda about her nephew.

Hernandez Mena had about 15 to 20 beers he told investigators. He also said he was the one being attacked outside the restaurant.

He recalls taking out the gun and pulling the trigger, but he wasn’t aiming for Cruz.

He says he didn’t mean to hurt anyone and doesn’t know what he did with the gun afterward.

Cruz’s mother is in deep grief at the loss of her son.

 "When he used to come visit me, he would massage me and say I love you mom," she said in tears. "I miss him, he's my son, it hurts."

Hernandez Mena is charged with first-degree murder with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm reports WPTV.

He was in court Monday morning, but The State Attorney’s office will have to determine whether or not to add a hate crime to the charges.

 Cruz's family has started a GoFundMe account to raise money for funeral costs. 

As of this writing, the campaign has already raised $4,551 of its $12k goal.