Crimewatch: Man accused of shooting & killing teen over fireworks dispute speaks out
AUSTIN, Texas - For the first time since his arrest, the man accused of shooting and killing 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz is telling his side of the story publicly.
41-year-old Jason Roche says he shot Ortiz over a fireworks dispute but claims that it was in self defense.
In an interview from jail, Roche recalls what happened during the early morning hours of July 4, 2018.
"I went out to tell them to take the fireworks somewhere else because they were messing with my dad's service dog," Roche says.
"I went back to my dad's apartment. I went inside to take a shower to go to work, I'm getting ready to go to work. I come back out, they started popping fireworks again," adds Roche.
Roche says that after telling Ortiz and his friends to stop, at that point, Ortiz became aggressive.
"When my father comes out to diffuse the situation. He's standing face to face with Devonte and I'm standing back to back with my father and during the course of that interchange he hits my father hard enough to knock him to the ground and pulls out a gun, and that's when I shot him," Roche says.
Roche was arrested for murder and aggravated assault.
Ortiz's mother, Kristina Ortiz, spoke about her son's death in August 2018.
She said at the time, "There's nothing that'll happen that'll make my baby come back. He was my everything."
Kristina continues to hope justice is served for her son.
"No parent deserves to bury their (expletive) child but no child deserves to see their (expletive) father killed in front him," Roche says.
Roche says he never intended to hurt anyone.
"If anybody who has kids, you're going to have that same instinct to protect your kids.Truth be told, as soon as he pulled that weapon out on me, I"m well within my rights to shoot him dead. But I did not want to shoot the man, but to drop the gun," Roche says.
Roche claims he and his family have been getting death threats. He says he was even attacked in jail and believes deep down that Devonte was not the person some make him out to be.
"This isn't black kids, popping off fireworks and enjoying the holiday. these are gang members out there looking for trouble," Roche says.
Roche says he wants people to know that he is not what is being said about him.
"They're calling me a racist, murderer, saying I drive my truck around in the neighborhood with white supremacy bumper stickers all over it. LIke I'm driving around the neighborhood giving 'Heil Hitler' salutes," Roche says.
"This is stuff the Austin Justice Coaltion had fabricated, made up and built this case to suit their agenda," Roche adds.
Chas Moore, the Executive Director of Austin Justice Coalition, responded to Roche's claims saying that all the organization does is put out the facts.
"(Roche) think that we are printing materials and stuff about him. He's not worth the 77 cents for us to print lies and opinions about him," Moore says.
"I think he bullied this young man, in the most fatal...to death," Moore adds.
Roche continues to fight for a chance at bail. He still sits in protective custody in jail because he still doesn't feel safe while waiting to learn his fate.
"I'm white. He's black. Yeah but it had nothing to do with that," Roche says. "It had to do with protecting my family."
Family of Devonte Ortiz asking county to remove bail option for accused killer
Man charged in death of 19-year-old after fireworks argument
Neighbors say teen who was killed over fireworks didn't deserve to die
Witness recalls deadly firework dispute