Neighbors say teen who was killed over fireworks didn't deserve to die

A mother's cry for help. FOX 7 obtained exclusive video from the early morning on 4th of July, on the right side you can see people running to crowd around 19-year-old Devonte Ortiz. He was shot and killed by a 41 year old man, on Wednesday morning.

“I'm devastated. I'm devastated for him mom. I hurt for his mom, I hurt for his family. He did not deserve that.”

Brittany Payne lived in the Pleasant Hill apartment complex for years and says she watched Ortiz grow up. She along with many others in the community helped put together this growing vigil, right where Devonte took his last breaths. “DeVonte was a sweet kid, he was well-respected, and he was not a gang-banger. He was in school, sports, he loved his family, and he loved his mom. He was almost like the man of the house.”

Neighbors Rudy Alvarez and Zariah Whitley say they've known Ortiz since they were babies, and play with his little sister all the time. "We'd play football and sometimes go to the basketball court and yeah he was nice,” Alvarez says.

Read Witness recalls deadly firework dispute

“I'm kinda mad because they let the guy out that shot him and I'm kinda sad because Devonte died and he was a really nice person,” Whitley says.

Across the street, is where that video was recorded.

It’s also where Marquez Rocha, one of Ortiz’s best friends lives. He says he saw the entire incident happen. “I really heard one of the cops call in to say it was a homicide and that's when all the news people came too, so when I heard that, it ripped my heart apart because he means a lot to me and it sucks cause after his funeral, it'll be the last time I ever see him again in my life.”

Rocha says he was standing on his front porch watching the fireworks with his family. He says later on the man who was later taken into custody, comes out of his apartment because the fireworks were disturbing him and his service dog. That's when he and Ortiz got into a verbal argument.

The man, then going back inside his apartment.

“He went back in, he got dressed and all that, but like, he looked like he knew what he was doing, the way he was dressed, like he had combat boots on, kinda like army tactical stuff, you know? Like he just looked like he knew what he was doing, that's all I gotta say, I think he knew what he was doing. Everybody just started gathering and that's when the dude pulled out his gun and he started shoving it into everybody's face telling everybody to get back and then DeVonte was just trying to walk away so you know obviously that wouldn't happen, but apparently, I mean, just in the blink of an eye he's gone.”

The 41-year-old was taken into custody on Wednesday but was later released.

Neighbors say he hasn't returned back to Pleasant Hill apartments.

Read Dispute over fireworks leads to fatal shooting

Rocha says, “It really hurt a lot, to see him, one of my closest friends, to see one of my own closest friends, get shot right in front of me. That's not something I ever thought I would experience in my life.” 

So now Ortiz’s village of support says they're leaning on each other to get through this tough time.

Payne says, “What would give me more peace is if justice is served.”

Friday night there's a vigil at Travis High School, Devonte Ortiz’s alma mater. It begins at 6 p.m.

Here’s the link to the family’s Go Fund Me page, which helps with Devonte’s funeral arrangements.