GENTRY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — One person was killed at a restaurant in Gentry on November 10.

According to a press release, the victim was an employee of La Huerta Mexican Restaurant at 129 Fowler St. and was in the kitchen area when he was shot in the back of the head.

KNWA/FOX24’s Samantha Boyd spoke with the brothers of the victim. They said his name was Fidel Mercado-Reyes.

Mercado-Reyes was 42 years old and a father of two twin boys.

“We’re still in shock because we don’t know how,” said Fidel’s brother, Victor. “Thinking about reasons and what was reason…but seems like it was no reason.”

According to Gentry Police Chief Clay Stewart, police arrested the suspected shooter, Martin E. Tavarez-Torres, 21, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Tavarez-Torres was taken into custody around 5:00 p.m. by Fayetteville Police near the Walmart Supercenter off Martin Luther King Blvd.

Tavarez-Torres is being held in Benton County Jail without bond and facing the charges of Capital Murder, First Degree Battery, and Aggravated Assault, according to the police chief.

The restaurant staff reported to officers that the shooter fled in a dark-colored Chevrolet pickup immediately after the incident. 

When officers arrived, they found medical personnel on the scene, rendering aid to “a Hispanic male in his 40s with an apparent gunshot wound to the back of his head,” according to a November 12 court filing.

The victim was unresponsive but still had a pulse and was rushed by ambulance to the Siloam Springs Regional Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead as a result of the gunshot wound.

According to police, a single 9mm bullet casing was recovered at the scene as well as a bullet fragment that was nearly completely intact.

In a 911 call, the restaurant’s manager stated that there was “an accident in the kitchen” and “an employee had fallen and was bleeding from the head,” according to the court filing. Moments later on the 911 recording, someone can be heard telling the caller that the employee had been shot in the head.

According to the filing, the police dispatcher asked the manager who shot the victim in the head, and she said it was “the cook that just started yesterday.” She then described the shooter and gave his name.

While at the hospital, the victim’s sister-in-law informed a police officer that she believed the incident may have been over a winning slot machine ticket that Mercado-Reyes won at Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma, according to court documents.

She believed the ticket to be worth $20,000 or $200,000.

The court filing explains that Mercado-Reyes’ property and clothing were seized from the hospital and inventoried, and that no wallet, identification, or casino ticket was amongst his property.

A criminal history check of Tavarez-Torres reveals arrests for:

  • Reckless Driving, Driving with License Cancelled, Suspended or Revoked, and DUI on May 19, 2021 by Bartlesville, Oklahoma Police Department.
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a valid license on January 6, 2019, by Butler County, Kansas Sheriff’s Office.

Court documents state that the prosecution requested Tavarez-Torres be held without bond based on “the nature of the crime, the likelihood of conviction, and the possible severity of the penalty that could be imposed.”

Further court proceedings are scheduled for December 17 in Benton County Circuit Court.