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Warrant issued in murder

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Warrant issued in murder

Blake Ovard/News-Sun

A warrant has been issued for the person Hobbs Police believe is responsible for killing Jiovanny Morales, 25, of Hobbs, on May 28.

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday afternoon for 17-year-old Jose S. Briones Jr., of Seminole, Texas, with charges of murder, a first-degree felony.

At around 10:34 a.m. HPD officers responded to a report of shots fired in the area of Grimes and Broadway Streets in Hobbs. While responding, officers were informed one person on scene, later identified as Morales, had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Officers noted in the report Morales was still breathing and they applied pressure to the wound until Hobbs EMS arrived and transported Morales to Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital, where he later died.

The driver of a maroon Jeep Grand Cherokee said Morales was a passenger in the vehicle and told police they were being followed by a black Toyota Camry from the area of Dal Paso and Kansas Streets.

The driver told police when they reached the area of Broadway and Grimes, Morales told him to, “get down,” then he heard about four gunshots.

He also identified Jose “Junior” Muro as the shooter and the driver of the Camry.

Detectives reviewed footage from intersection cameras and Eagle IC, noting the interaction between the Camry and Grand Cherokee as they entered and traveled across the city.

Police also noted at the intersection of Joe Harvey Boulevard and Grimes Street, Morales is seen on camera exiting the Grand Cherokee and attempting to open the driver’s door of the Camry.

At each intersection heading south on Grimes, both vehicles are seen on camera driving recklessly, the report stated.

Detectives also noted a dark-blue Toyota Camry with a fake temporary license plate 2B6271J was seen on surveillance video from Hobbs Fire Department Station 3 and on bank ATM video cameras in the area.

At the area of Sanger and Grimes streets, a red Chrysler PT Cruiser, with Texas plates, is seen in the surveillance footage entering the foray, according to the police report.

Police noted the PT Cruiser drove next to the Grand Cherokee in the area consistent to where witnesses said shots were fired from, and matched the trajectory of the bullet police believe struck and killed Morales.

Police reviewed surveillance footage and noted the PT Cruiser was seen at the same time prior to the shooting with the Camry at the bank ATM. An older, unidentified man and the driver of the PT Cruiser conducted a transaction at the ATM, with the older man getting into the back seat of the Camry, and the driver of the PT Cruiser, later identified as Briones Jr., being the only occupant in the PT Cruiser.

Gaines County Sheriff’s Office deputies worked with HPD detectives to identify individuals seen on the bank ATM surveillance footage to determine their identity, because of the Texas plates, the report stated.

Gaines County Undersheriff Landon Walker was able to identify Briones Jr. as the driver of the PT Cruiser, from “previous contacts with their agency,” the report stated.

On June 7, HPD detectives, were escorted to the known address of Briones Jr. on Gaines County Road 320 by Gaines County Sheriff’s investigators. There, they made contact with a woman who showed them where a PT Cruiser matching the description of the one police identified Briones Jr. driving, was located.

The owner of the property, and the vehicle was reached by phone and gave permission to search the vehicle for evidence.
Detectives located a spent .40 caliber casing on the front passenger floorboard, photographed it, and logged it into evidence.

Anyone with information is asked to contact HPD at 575-397-9265, or contact Lea County Crime Stoppers at 575-393-8005. Those with information may be eligible for a cash reward.

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