37ºF

Alleged gunman shook hands with victim minutes before fatal shooting, witness says

Rolando Garza, 35, charged with murdering Gerardo Aparicio

SAN ANTONIO – A man wanted in connection with a murder that happened in a Northwest side apartment earlier this week turned himself in to police on Friday.

Rolando Garza, 35, said he fatally shot 30-year-old Gerardo Aparicio outside the apartment balcony in self-defense.

“I don’t know him. He came to my residence where I was staying at with a gun,” Garza said as he was escorted to the Bexar County Jail on Friday.

The shooting happened at the Branch at Medical Center in the 7200 block of Snowden Road early Wednesday morning.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the shooting was triggered by an altercation between two groups of people who have been involved in an ongoing feud.

According to an affidavit, Garza was temporarily staying with a woman because he didn't have a place to live. The woman told police that she was in an "on again, off again relationship" with Aparicio and that Aparicio had come to see her the night of the fatal shooting.

She told police that as Aparicio arrived at her apartment, Garza left to see his girlfriend.

When Garza returned to the woman's apartment, Aparicio hid in her closet because he "didn't want to have a confrontation" with Garza, the affidavit says. 

Aparicio eventually left through the front door and saw Garza outside the apartment smoking, according to the affidavit. The woman told police she saw Garza and Aparicio shake hands before Aparicio left and "thought everything was fine."

Minutes later, Aparicio returned to the woman's apartment with two men and a woman. Aparicio and the three others began arguing with Garza and one of the men with Aparicio insisted that "if they wanted to fight, they should go outside and fight it out," the woman said.

The man with Aparicio who suggested fighting also told both men not to use guns, and as Aparicio walked out of the apartment, the woman said Garza pulled out a gun and shot Aparicio.

One of the men with Aparicio pulled out a gun and returned fire, the affidavit said. One of the men with Aparicio suffered a gunshot wound to the groin during the gun battle, according to police.

The woman said she ran down the stairs and hid by a building until the gunfire stopped. When she returned to the apartment, she found Aparicio's body, according to police.

***

Wade Pantermuehl lives under the apartment unit where the shooting took place. Pantermuehl, an Army veteran, remembers waking up to rounds going off outside.

“When I first heard it I was dead asleep. I woke up thinking I was overseas again, but that went away very quickly,” he said. “By the time I got out of bed, I heard the firefight start. I got my firearm. I put it in my holster, called the cops, came to the door.”

He said he saw people leaving the scene and ran to try to help Aparicio, but he said the man was already dead.

Neighbors said the fights between the woman who lives in the apartment and the two men involved had been going on for weeks.

“They’ve had some pretty serious arguments,” Pantermuehl said. “I’ve seen her arguing with both of them. It was not something new for that group.”