By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
The cousin of a suspect wanted by police in connection with a homicide Wednesday feels his relative is being unfairly portrayed.
Javier Martinez believes his cousin Tony Martinez must have been acting in self-defense if he shot and killed Hugo Ochoa, 32, as police allege.
Ochoa was found dead Wednesday night from a single gunshot wound about a block from the Clovis police station.
Police issued a warrant for Tony Martinez’ arrest the next day. He will be charged with murder if located, according to 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler. Tony Martinez should be considered armed and dangerous, according to police.
Javier Martinez said there are bullet holes in his house, left the night of the shooting. He said he discovered the holes near his porch on the front wall and door, still marked by police evidence cards.
He lives across the street from where Ochoa was shot. He said he had given Tony Martinez access to his home the night Ochoa was shot.
“I don’t know what happened. It doesn’t look like Tony killed someone and ran away, it looks like someone was shooting at him,” said Javier Martinez, who was arrested Thursday after police executed a search warrant at his home and discovered methamphetamines, five pounds of marijuana and an undisclosed number of firearms.
Javier Martinez was released on a $6,000 bond around 2 p.m. Thursday.
Officials have declined to comment on whether there was a connection between the weapons found during the warrant search and the shooting. Javier Martinez was not charged in relation to the seized firearms, according to Chandler.
Javier Martinez said he had left for work around 4 p.m. and was not home when the shooting occurred. He said he had allowed Tony Martinez to keep his personal items there after he had moved out of his girlfriend’s house the same day.
Javier Martinez said he has not heard from or seen his cousin since early Wednesday before the shooting and has no idea where he is.
Police have released few details on the shooting.
“They portray my cousin as a negative person. He’s good people. He respects everybody that respects him,” Javier Martinez said in a phone interview Friday. “We’re not out there looking for any problems.”
Tony Martinez, 51, was seeking disability as a result of injuries he sustained years ago, Javier Martinez said. He described a man who has difficulty standing for long periods of time, tires easily and cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to the sun.
Chandler declined to comment on Javier Martinez’ claims of bullet holes in his home and said he could not speak to the theory of a shoot-out or a self-defense shooting. A former Marine, Javier Martinez said he wants no part of street violence.
“I’d rather die in combat than die in these damn streets. At least you have some kind of honor. No one wins in that situation (street violence).
“It’s always a waste of life for someone to die in the streets like an animal. That’s not the way I would want to die.”
Unsure what type or how many guns had been confiscated from his home by police, Martinez said his gun collection consisted of his personal weapons, guns his brother had left behind when he moved and guns he had taken off the streets. He said it has been years since he has fired any of them. “Some of them guns were just taken away from people. I’d rather take them off the damn streets than let some other knucklehead have them,” he said.
Javier Martinez said he and his cousin knew Ochoa and had spent time with him. As far as he knew there was no animosity between Tony Martinez and Ochoa, he said. Javier Martinez went to get a soda with Ochoa the day before Ochoa was shot, Javier Martinez said.
“I didn’t have no problem with Hugo and them. There’s no telling what happened. There’s a lot of people around this neighborhood. I don’t think it’s dangerous. To us it’s just everyday life,” he said of the neighborhood where he has lived his entire life.
Attempts to reach Ochoa’s family members in California and fiancee in Clovis were unsuccessful.