Two dead in violent weekend

A 19-year-old Clovis man was shot at Seventh and Merriwether streets early Sunday morning. Wilfred Salas Jr. died later Sunday in a Lubbock hospital. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

One baby died under “suspicious” circumstances, a 19-year-old man died after being found shot in a car he was driving, a family restaurant was robbed at gunpoint and a 15-year-old boy was shot in the arm as Clovis experienced another violent weekend.

Officials said they do not believe any of the incidents are related.

An arrest was made in connection with the baby’s death. Police said they have a “person of interest” but have not charged anyone in the shooting death. No suspects had been arrested in the robbery or the non-fatal shooting as of Monday night.

The violence began about 9:15 p.m. Saturday when a gunman entered CiCi’s Pizza Buffet on Prince Street and ordered diners to get on the floor, then demanded cash from an employee. The robber fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. No one was hurt.

The baby’s death was reported about 11 p.m. on Saturday at 901 E. Brady.

A teenage family member is charged with negligent abuse of a child resulting in death. Police declined to name the teen and would not say how they believe the baby, 4-month-old Christopher Valdez, died, though they issued a press release saying it was “suspicious in nature.” The 16-year-old suspect is being held in the Curry County Juvenile Detention Center. The baby’s body has been sent for autopsy.

The non-fatal shooting of Efrin Tapia, 15, was reported about midnight Saturday. Tapia was shot in his arm while walking near 12th and Pile streets, officials said, possibly after an exchange of words with four black males in a white four-door vehicle. The suspects were wearing red bandanas or red clothing, Clovis Police Lt. Jim Schoeffel said.

Police found Wilfred Salas Jr., 19, shot in the head about 3:15 a.m. Sunday at Seventh and Merriwether streets.

Salas died at a Lubbock hospital nine hours after he was admitted, police said. He was shot while driving a vehicle, which then hit two parked vehicles.

Police would not disclose if there were witnesses, or what the motive in the fatal shooting may be, citing the ongoing investigation. They did say a “person of interest” has been identified in connection with the case, though no arrests had been made late Monday.

“The community can be confident the Major Crimes Unit is working hard on the case,” District Attorney Matt Chandler said. “They have a good track record … they won’t stop working until the case is concluded.”

The weekend was at least as violent as the Christmas weekend, when police said five violent crimes occurred between Christmas Eve and Christmas night. One man was killed on Dec. 24, while police also reported a non-fatal shooting, non-fatal stabbing, a robbery at gunpoint and rape in about a 24-hour period.

Curry County has now seen four unrelated homicides since Dec. 10. Arrests have been made in all but the Salas case.

The strangled body of a 30-year-old Clovis woman was found in a ditch north of Clovis on Dec. 10. An Oklahoma man was shot to death in a Clovis motel parking lot on Christmas Eve.