Monday, April 11, 2005 Posted: 12:35 PM EDT (1635 GMT)
CRESCENT CITY, Florida (AP) -- Members of neighboring families shot at each other, wounding six people, as part of a long-running feud that victims said peaked when a girl from one family began dating a boy from the other one.
Six people ages 14 to 22 were taken to hospitals Sunday for treatment of gunshot wounds. Two remained hospitalized Monday, one in serious condition.
Baldemar Riojas, 46, was charged with six counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was freed on $15,000 bail.
Members of the Soliz and Ortiz families say their feud with the neighboring Riojas family has simmered for more than a year and became more heated when Riojas' teenage daughter started dating Miguel Soliz, 15, who was among the wounded.
"All this started because they were dating," said Melva Ortiz, Miguel's mother. "I tried to tell him to leave the girl, but you know how kids are."
Maj. Rick Ryan of the Putnam County sheriff's office said members of both families had guns and fired across a street at each other.
However, he said investigators had been stymied by the families' reluctance to talk to authorities. "We get out there and nobody knows anything," Ryan said.
Angelica Soliz, a cousin of the victims, said she hid under a bed during the gunfire early Sunday.
"We just threw ourselves to the floor, and the people who got shot, they didn't have a chance," said another family member, Maria Ortiz, 22.
The violence had been building for hours. A fight broke out Saturday night among dozens of opposing family members, but the sheriff's office said there was not enough information for an arrest.
Riojas' 20-year-old son, Baldomero Riojas, was questioned and released, but Putnam County sheriff's deputies plan to pursue a charge of reckless display of a firearm against him for allegedly firing into the air. A third man was being sought.
Riojas' wife said her husband was not responsible.
"My husband's not a violent person. He's been in the United States for 24 years and he's never been in trouble," Lisa Riojas told WJXT-TV of Jacksonville.
Ana Diaz, 14, who was wounded in the back, was in serious but stable condition Monday at Hallifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. The only other person hospitalized, Miguel Ortiz, 22, was in good condition at Shands Hospital in Gainesville.
Yet another day in the lives of the weird and whacky