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Man wanted in shooting of 2 children in police custody

Joe Ramos Mercado captured on East Side

SAN ANTONIO – Joe Ramos Mercado, the man police said shot two children over the weekend, is in police custody.

Mercado was taken into custody around 11:30 a.m. after police found him in the 400 block of Haggin Street.

"Throughout the morning, officers had been getting people calling in a suspicious person, people who thought maybe this looked like the person we were looking for based on what they saw on social media and on TV," said San Antonio police Sgt. Javier Salazar. "The suspect knew he was caught and he gave up without any resistance whatsoever. He was brought back here to police headquarters where he spoke at length with detectives, and the case is well on its way."

Mercado now faces two counts of aggravated assault with a weapon. He's also charged with violating the terms of his parole.

The two children he allegedly shot, Nathan Avalos, 6, and his sister, Jessica, 10, are both in stable condition at local hospitals.

As police led him in handcuffs to a patrol car waiting to take him to the Bexar County Jail, Mercado apologized to the victims' mother, Melissa Avalos, and his family.

"All I got to say is I'm sorry to my family, especially Melissa. It was never my intention to hurt Nate. If anyone knows, I loved that little boy," said Mercado. "I'm sorry to my family. I'm sorry mom for letting you down, and letting you down, bro."

Mercado had been on the run following a domestic dispute Saturday afternoon with Avalos in the 200 block of Anton.

Police say he grabbed a gun and fired as Avalos tried to leave during the dispute. She then grabbed her children and ran for help, and Mercado got in her car and drove away.

While he was on the run, Mercado's family said he reached out to them for help.

"He wanted me to pick him up and take him to a different location, but when I told him no, he wouldn't tell me where he was at," said Mercado's youngest brother, Daniel Delgado. "I heard if I would have been caught with him, I would have been charged with something. I got two kids myself and my kids meant a lot to him, so he knew how important it was for me to be out here in their lives."

Mercado threated to "shoot it out with police" over the weekend. Instead he was arrested without incident.

"My mom asked me to turn myself in and I mainly did it for my brother," Mercado said.

Delgado said his brother's alleged crimes are unimaginable. He too apologized for Mercado's actions.

"To Melissa and her family, I'm sorry," Delgado said. "I'm sorry you all have to go through this. Nobody deserves this."