Boy, 11, recounts 911 call about Plymouth shooting

WILLARD On Christmas night, Juan Barrios and his family were gathered around the television set watc
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

WILLARD

On Christmas night, Juan Barrios and his family were gathered around the television set watching The Disney channel.

The cheerful family scene didn't last long. Three gunshots suddenly rang out.

Juan, 11, who lives in a migrant housing complex just south of Willard, said the shots were so loud he could tell they came from nearby. He never imagined how close they actually were.

A minute or two after the shots, he heard a knock at his front door. It was Juan's 9-year-old neighbor, sobbing and trembling with fear.

Juan said the young boy was panicked, but he was still able to tell Juan's family that his mother and sister -- Veronica Garcia, 43, and Melissa Ruiz, 16 -- were bleeding and in need of help.

Juan's mother, Irma Martinez, ran next door where she found migrant worker Nicanor Garcia, 32, struggling for a gun with his wife and stepdaughter, according to Juan's account. Martinez speaks very little English and has trouble with interviews.

"My mom went. ... My mom saw them fighting for the gun," Juan said.

Authorities said Nicanor walked into his stepdaughter's room at 5181 Bevier Road with a 16-gauge shotgun at about 7 p.m. Christmas night. He pointed the gun at Melissa and pulled the trigger, shooting her in the back. The 9-year-old boy said he was in the room watching television when this happened.

Veronica, who rushed to her daughter's aid, was blasted once in the leg and once in the stomach, said Huron County Sheriff's Capt. Robert McLaughlin.

A struggle for the gun ensued.

As Veronica wrestled for the weapon, she called out to her son, instructing him to run next door to get help, McLaughlin said.

"The daughter and the wife fought the suspect into submission," McLaughlin said.

Juan, who speaks the most fluent English, called 911.

"The guy is trying to shoot the lady, so we need help," he cried out in one call.

Authorities have refused to release many details of the incident, but neighbors say Nicanor surrendered the gun and headed outside into a vegetable field.

When officers arrived, they found Nicanor outside, wearing blood-soaked jeans. He was arrested without incident and was charged with attempted murder.

Authorities have not identified a motive, but shortly before the shootings Nicanor asked his wife if she loved him, according to a Huron County Municipal Court affidavit. Veronica said she did, but Nicanor replied, "I don't believe you."

Authorities said Juan was brave under very intense circumstances.

"He did a great job," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin wasn't the only person who appreciated Juan's deeds.

Juan said he got a text message from Melissa that reads: "Thanks for helping me. I love you a lot. I'll never forget it."