Jose Santa Cruz Las Vegas special ed teacher shot dead confronting Zyonn Dawson teen spraying graffiti. Was always there for his students.
A special education teacher has been shot dead after confronting a teenager spraying graffiti on a storefront in Las Vegas.
Jose Santa Cruz, 32, taught students at Cortez Elementary School when he wasn’t working at two local businesses he owned — both located within a block of where he was shot, records show.
On the day of the shooting, January 7, Cruz had just finished help his father park a taco truck on East Charleston Boulevard. From there, the 32 year old man proceeded to make his way towards a nearby parking lot just on 7 p.m.
It was then that the father heard gunfire erupt just seconds later.
Surveillance video showed the assailant firing five rounds at Santa Cruz along with throwing a paint canister before driving off.
18 year old teen vandalizing building surface passerby upon being confronted
Santa Cruz was rushed to University Medical Center. Despite the best efforts of doctors, he died hours later.
On Friday, just eight days after the shooting, police arrested 18-year-old Zyonn Dawson over Santa Cruz’s murder.
Dawson was 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.
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’.
During questioning, Dawson allegedly told police that he pulled out his gun and fired at Santa Cruz because he feared that he was about to be robbed The Las Vegas Review Journal reported.
‘Always there for his students’
The teen said 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.
Faculty members at Cortez Elementary School where Santa Cruz taught, described the educator as a religious, family man who was always there for his students.
Co-worker Elizabeth Allen described Santa Cruz as a ‘mountain mover’ who helped change his students’ lives.
The Mexican native and his two younger siblings grew up in southern California before his parents moved to Las Vegas, where the three children went to high school and remained. At the time of his death, Santa Cruz and his brother still lived at home.
Told Santa Cruz’s younger sister via 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.”
The Santa Cruz family have set up a GoFundMe to help pay for funeral expenses.