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Worker Mistaken for Burglar, Shot on Christmas Eve

He was checking for burst pipes at Texas apartment complex
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2022 7:05 PM CST

A maintenance worker checking for frozen and burst pipes at a Texas apartment complex on Christmas Eve was fatally shot by a resident who thought he was a burglar, police say. Cesar Montelongo, a 53-year-old father of five, was shot on the resident's balcony at the Clayton Point Apartments in Grand Prairie around 6pm, Fox 4 reports. Complex resident Jose Dominguez says he was surprised to see Montelongo at the complex Saturday afternoon, dressed for a Christmas Eve Mass. "He told me, we have some problems we have to resolve and fix. That’s why I’m here and I told him: Well, that’s bad luck," Dominguez tells NBC-DFW.

Police say that several pipes had ruptured at the complex and that Montelengo, the head of maintenance, was checking for more. The eldest of his five sons, Cesar Montelongo Jr., says his father had worked at the complex for 16 years and all the residents knew him. "All I know is that my dad was working on fixing leaking pipes and he was doing his work on the outside and being outside the window," Montelongo Jr. says. "My dad wasn't trying to break in. He was just looking for leaking pipes." Christmas Day would have been Montelongo's 29th wedding anniversary.

Police say the resident cooperated with officers, and no arrest was made, though the shooting is still being investigated. Former prosecutor Russell Wilson tells NBC-DFW that while the law allows people to defend themselves against an "anticipated burglary," potential charges in the "sad and tragic situation" will depend on several factors, including whether residents had been notified that somebody could be working on their balconies. "Believing in the Lord, we forgive the person who did it," Montelongo Jr. says. "As far as what is to come, that will be determined by a grand jury and the good Lord himself." (Read more Texas stories.)

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