AUSTIN, Texas - Crime scene tape sealed off access to this Circle K convenience store at the corner of Montopolis and Riverside where a deadly confrontation took place around 5:30 a.m. Friday morning.
Inside a small sedan is where police found the body of Verneranda Martinez-Gutierrez. She was known in this East Austin neighborhood for her smile and for the tamales she sold.
“When if you only had a little bit of change, she would give you food, she was real nice, very polite, she was always hard-working, that’s how she made her living,” said a neighborhood resident who declined to give his name.
Austin police say Gutierrez was shot and killed by her common-law husband Florencio Barron.
“Witnesses said that he basically ran up to the car, while she was parked there, said something to her, fired some shots, then, went to the front of the car and shot himself,” said APD Homicide Sgt Tracy Gerrish.
A large group of grieving family and friends gathered at the convenience store. They watched quietly as investigators collected evidence. Detectives confirmed that Barron had a previous criminal history for abuse.
“He was convicted of that and deported for that, and he’s obviously re-entered the country illegally and has been here since he got arrested for that and deported,” said Gerrish.
The nationality of Gutierrez and Barron is not immediately known, but detectives do know the couple’s three children, ages 10 to 13, were in the car at the time of the attack.
“I believe she probably tried to shield them, but from the information we have right now, we don’t believe the children were a target, we believe that she was the target,” said Gerrish.
None of the children were hurt. They were interviewed by CPS investigators and are now with family members. Investigators were told the couple had recently broken up and a custody battle may be the motive for the shooting.