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6 arrested in protest over teen who killed self in squad

Family and friends refute the police chief's claim that the high school student shot himself in the head

The News & Observer

DURHAM N.C. — Durham police said Friday that they had arrested six people, including a 15-year-old girl, during a march and demonstration about the death of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta that turned into a confrontation on downtown streets Thursday night.

Charges against five, including the girl, involved trespassing at police headquarters when marchers went onto the parking lot behind it and failure to disperse when police ordered them to.

One man, 20-year-old Benjamin Colt Markgraft of 10712 Rougemont Road, was accused of carrying a concealed switchblade knife, impeding traffic on streets and disorderly conduct.

Chief Jose Lopez said Friday morning that police believe "many of those who participated in the march were not related to the family, but were there with the sole purpose of being disruptive."

He did not specify whether he meant the six arrested people.

Gustavo Pascual Gutierrez, 22, of 2008 Angier Ave. was arrested at police headquarters as the marchers were heading back downtown.

Several others were in a car that police stopped after it left a downtown parking garage.

Those other adults arrested, police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said, were: Andy Guadalupe Mendoza, 18, of 1229 Berkeley St.; Vianey Fuentes, 17, of Great Bend Drive, and Perla Eliza Fuentes, 16, of Tremont Drive.

Police tossed smoke grenades and fired teargas around the CCB Plaza on east Chapel Hill Street after a crowd they estimated at about 150 had walked from there to police headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street and back.

Some carried large black banners that said "Murdered by Police" in English and Spanish.

The peaceful event turned violent when police saw marchers spray-painting what they said were anti-police slogans downtown and moved to break up the crowd. Some people threw rocks and bottles at police and they let loose with the smoke and teargas to break up the remaining crowd, which had shrunk after the march.

The demonstrators were upset about the death of Huerta, known to his family and friends as Chuy, while he was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car outside headquarters after he had been arrested on an outstanding warrant for trespassing.

Police Chief Jose Lopez has said Huerta had got a gun and had shot himself in the head.

The State Bureau of Investigation took over the case as soon as it happened, and their report goes to the Durham district attorney's office.

No one has disclosed anymore than Lopez revealed at a Dec. 11 news conference.

Thursday night's event happened without a permit from police, but they said they "extended compassion to the family by allowing the event," according to a statement.

Police were treating the march as a potential problem because of vandalism to police headquarters and a cruiser during a Nov. 22 march when some people threw firecrackers at police.

Thursday, police had officers in riot gear and some armed tactical squads assigned to the event in case of trouble and were ready to make arrests.

As the crowd left CCB plaza, officers on bicycles herded them onto sidewalks because they did not have a parade permit to walk in the streets, but officers stopped traffic at cross streets as the march approached them.

At headquarters, many people, including Huerta's mother and sister and others lit candles while they stood in the parking lot where he died.

Police allowed them there for a time, they told the group in Spanish and English that they had to leave in 10 minutes.

With about two minutes left, Rafael Estrada Maya, one of the march coordinators, called for the crowd to leave the building, and the event appeared to have been defused without incidents.

Copyright 2013 The News & Observer

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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