LAWRENCEVILLE — Two-year-old Deandre Vega was shot through the heart as his father ran out of the garage. His grandfather had done the shooting with a gun brought to the scene by his uncle.
His mother watched and screamed.
So went the testimony of Gwinnett County police homicide Det. Gerald Leak Friday afternoon, as that grandfather — 39-year-old Luis Efrain Torres — sat in front of Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Hammer Blum and had the murder and aggravated assault charges against him bound over to superior court.
The deadly accident on Aug. 20, Leak told the court, was the result of an ongoing argument between Torres and the toddler’s father, Rochell McCoy.
According to testimony, McCoy and Torres’ daughter, Deandre’s mother, “had been having some issues between them.” Torres did not want McCoy inside the home on Stafford Drive in Lilburn, and had told him so more than once.
On that night, McCoy and young Deandre arrived late in the evening. Both parties admitted to feuding and said that McCoy had pushed Torres to the garage floor. That’s when Torres’ 18-year-old son came out with a gun in his waistband, Leak said.
“He heard his dad arguing and yell, ‘Get out of my house, get out of my house,’” Leak said. “He didn’t know who it was.”
Torres grabbed the gun from his son and fired once at McCoy, missing. He shot a second time as McCoy fled into the yard.
The bullet instead hit Deandre in the upper right chest, traveling from front to back and piercing his heart and liver. The bullet was never found.
Torres stayed at the scene, was taken into custody without incident and has remained in the Gwinnett County jail since. Bond was not discussed during Friday’s hearing.
Defense attorney Edwin Wilson brought up his client’s prosthetic right leg and the subsequent vulnerability when confronted by someone larger than him (i.e. McCoy). He stressed that Torres had asked McCoy to leave multiple times, possibly foreshadowing his defense in future court proceedings.
“Are you aware that nobody intended any harm to the child?” he asked Leak.
“Correct,” Leak responded.