A special education teacher has been shot dead after he allegedly confronted a teenager spraying graffiti on a storefront in Las Vegas. Jose Santa Cruz, 32, was killed in cold blood shortly before 7 pm on January 7, after helping his father park a taco truck on East Charleston Boulevard. Santa Cruz walked off from the truck and into a nearby parking lot before his father heard gunfire erupt just seconds later. The young teacher was shot fire times before being rushed to University Medical Center. Despite the best efforts of doctors, he died hours later. On Saturday, police arrested 18-year-old Zyonn Dawson over Santa Cruz’s murder after scouring surveillance footage from the area.
Jose Santa Cruz was killed in cold blood in Las Vegas on January 7 after he allegedly confronted a teenager spraying graffiti on a storefront. Zyonn Dawson has been arrested over the murder. Dawson has been charged with one count of murder with a deadly weapon and is being held without bail. The pair were not known to one another, but police believe Dawson was spray painting a wall when he was approached by Santa Cruz who asked him to stop the act of vandalism.
According to The Las Vegas Review Journal, Santa Cruz owned two businesses on the block where he was shot. Police reported that fresh graffiti was found right next to the scene of the shooting. Santa Cruz’s father told investigators that if his son ‘saw someone spray painting graffiti on the wall of the business, he would have said something to them’.
Santa Cruz was shot dead near this parking lot in East Las Vegas on January 7
In addition to owning the two businesses in the area, Santa Cruz taught special education at Cortez Elementary School
Police arrested Dawson six days after the murder after scouring through surveillance footage from the scene. The teen allegedly told police that he pulled out his gun and fired at Santa Cruz because he feared that he was about to be robbed. Dawson alleged that he believed Santa Cruz was accompanied by another man at the time. However, surveillance footage did not show that to be the case. However, an ‘unknown person passing by on a scooter’ was recorded by cameras near the scene. It is not thought that they are connected to the crime. In addition to owning the two businesses in the area, Santa Cruz taught special education at Cortez Elementary School. He has been described as a man of deep faith and a loyal son. Co-worker Elizabeth Allen described Santa Cruz as a ‘mountain mover’ who helped change his students’ lives. Santa Cruz’s younger sister told The Review Journal: ‘He was always going to be close to my mom, He would tell my mom, “I will never leave you for nobody.”
They Santa Cruz family have set up a GoFundMe to help pay for funeral expenses.
Santa Cruz’s co-workers has described him as a ‘mountain mover’ who helped change his students’ lives