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Police: Fatal shooting at Northwest Arkansas restaurant over slot machine ticket

Police say both the suspect and the victim were employees at La Huerta in Gentry.

GENTRY, Ark. — A small Northwest Arkansas town is in shock following a fatal shooting between employees at a restaurant.

According to the Gentry Police Department, 21-year-old Martin E. Tavarez-Torres shot 45-year-old Fidel Mercado Reyes inside the La Hurta restaurant on Fowler Street in Gentry. 

The shooting happened at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10. 

According to court documents, when officers arrived on the scene they found medical personnel rendering aid to Reyes, who had a gunshot wound to the back of his head. He was transported to a Siloam Springs hospital where he died from his injuries. 

Resturant employees alerted police that the suspected shooter was Martin E. Tavarez-Torres, the nephew of the restaurant owner, who had just started working there the day before. 

Torres fled the scene and was later arrested at a family member's home in Fayetteville. 

While speaking with officers, a family member of the victim told police that they believe the incident was over either a $20,000 or $200,000 slot machine ticket won by Fidel the night before the shooting. Police believe the pair were together when Fidel won the ticket. Court documents state that Torres helped Reyes obtain a passport in Houston after winning the ticket, and planned to take him to the casino to cash out before the shooting occurred. 

Credit: Benton County Detention Center
Martin E. Tavarez-Torres

Reyes’ brother, Victor Mercado Reyes says his brother was a really good person. He remembers back to when they were together, the day before he died. 

“We talked about our childhood, our present, our future, our past, all of our fond memories. We didn’t expect this was going to happen,” he said. 

Reyes’ other brother, Fernando Mercado Reyes says his brother leaves behind twin boys and lots of family.

“I just want justice for my brother. He doesn’t deserve to die that way, I mean anyway,” he told 5NEWS.  

A GoFundMe has been set up for Reyes' funeral costs.

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