Blind El Monte man accidentally shot brother to death, officials say

EL MONTE — The fatal shooting of an El Monte man by his blind brother last week was not a murder, but rather a tragic accident, a homicide detective said Friday.
Erik Diaz, 19, was fatally shot about 1 a.m. on Jan. 16 in the apartment where he lived with his brother in the 4100 block of Rowland Avenue, sheriff’s and police officials said.
His brother, Alex Diaz, 24, who is completely blind, was initially arrested following the shooting but was released Thursday, Detective Q. Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“We don’t believe it was an intentional shooting,” said the detective, who described the incident as a “very unfortunate accident.”
The brothers had a good relationship, and there was no argument prior to the shooting, he said.
Alex Diaz was devastated when detectives told him his brother had died, Rodriguez said. “He took it extremely hard.”
The gun belonged to Alex Diaz, Rodriguez said, who told investigators he had it for protection from local gang members. He was not believed to be involved in gangs himself.
Officials were still investigating where got the gun.
The shooting took placed as the brothers were in the living room of their apartment, Rodriguez said.
“The gun was pulled out,” he said. The men were examining it when, “somehow it went off.”
Alex Diaz was holding the weapon when it fired, the detective added. The handgun was found at the scene.
Erik Diaz was taken to a local hospital, where he died about about 19 hours after the shooting, El Monte police Lt, Michelle States said shortly after the incident.
An official cause of death had not been determined for Erik Diaz Friday, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said.
Though Alex Diaz is not expected to be charged with murder, Rodriguez said, the District Attorney’s Office may later decide to file other charges related to the incident against him.

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