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Five charged in accidental gun death of Athens man


An AR-15 pistol similar to the one that killed Juan Sanchez

By Joe Johnson

Five people have been criminally charged in the gun related death of a man at an Athens trailer park last month.

The suspects reportedly were all present when 21-year-old Juan Sanchez was fatally shot, and they told police that it was an accident.

However, after an investigation by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, it was determined that they all were criminally responsible for the victim’s death.

Charged with involuntary manslaughter are Alexis Mendez, 19, Brian Tapia, 20, Daniel Sanchez, 20; Agustin Benevides Negrete, 22; and Mauricio Benevides, 24.

The police department would not cite specific reasons for why the suspects were criminally culpable for Sanchez’s death.

“Detectives believe that based on the evidence, all five played a role that met the elements of involuntary manslaughter and were charged appropriately,” ACCPD spokesman Geof Gilland said. “To protect the integrity of the case, that is all the information we are releasing. We believe the five individuals have been appropriately charged...The evidence has been forwarded to the district attorney for review and prosecution.”

Under Georgia law, “A person commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act when he causes the death of another human being without any intention to do so by the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony.”

Brian Tapia
Alexis Mendez
Agustin Benevides Negrete
Mauricio Benavides
Daniel Sanchez

According to the initial police incident report, on the night of Feb. 11, officers responded to Pinewood Estates North off of U.S. Highway 29 North to investigate a reported shooting.

Upon arrival they found Juan Sanchez lying unresponsive on the ground and with a bullet wound to his back, the report noted; The five young men who would be later arrested were all at the scene.

The suspects initially told police that they had been in an SUV with Sanchez who, when he was about to leave, asked for his gun and then they heard the weapon fire and Sanchez yelling that he had shot himself.

Tapia’s initial statement was that he was holding the gun by the handle to give it to Sanchez when the gun when it went off, according to the police report.

“Brian said that Juan had just bought the gun earlier this date and he was just checking it out,” according to the report. “Brian said that they removed the magazine while looking at it, but he didn't realize there was a bullet in the chamber.”

Tapia said that Sanchez had not grabbed the gun from him, and that “he must have pulled (the trigger) on accident while picking it up,” according to the incident report.

Sanchez was transported to the hospital, where he later died.

The report indicates that police found the white AR-15 semiautomatic pistol on the ground next on the SUV’s driver’s side and that the weapon was placed into evidence.

All five suspects were denied bail by a Magistrate Court judge, and they were being held at the county jail.

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14 Comments


dillon lyon
dillon lyon
Apr 14, 2023

I went to school with them all, it’s a shame stuff like this happens , knew him personally, was a good person , just sometimes with the wrong crow.

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Unknown member
Apr 14, 2023
Replying to

Ages 19-24 but you went to school with all of them? I don't believe you.

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Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
Apr 13, 2023

Just a question about a point you made about the second amendment. I'm all for everyone's right to bear arms and protect themselves but you said "it's meant to be the last and final safeguard against government tyranny." Do you honestly think you, and everyone that own an AR-15, a citizen formed militia, would have the slightest chance against the US government? Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen, that have sworn to defend their government and follow the orders they are given?

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Unknown member
Apr 15, 2023
Replying to

No more questions or comments?

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James D Keating
James D Keating
Apr 12, 2023

What the hell were they going hunting for with a AR-15 pistol?

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Replying to

Nobody said anything about hunting.

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Izzy Mendalbaum
Izzy Mendalbaum
Apr 12, 2023

Another death by a gun. Intentional? I don't know. Let's hope the justice system gets this one right. I gotta rant a bit here..... by the hour we are bombarded by stories of shooting deaths. Most intentional, many accidental and sadly almost always not a case self-defense. So isn't that the reason we are allowed to carry guns? Self-defense? America has a huge problem with guns. The left wants to blame too many guns and the right wants their guns protected and blames societal factors. It's all crap. We have too many guns and we are not doing enough to keep them away from innocent hands and crimanal thugs. This is not a single problem to sol…

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Replying to

Well said and absolutely correct. Thank you.

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