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Self-Defense or Premeditated Murder? Jury Deliberates in Chesterfield County Shooting

Last summer, at a joyful coming-of-age celebration for a cousin, a fight broke out among two groups of teens at the Cultural Center of India. The situation quickly turned violent when a Chesterfield County teen emerged from a restroom stall with a gun and opened fire, killing 16-year-old Joel A. Gonzalez-Alvarado. The shooting, which was partially recorded, occurred after a series of shots were fired in the men’s restroom, and the surveillance cameras captured partygoers running for the exits.

During the trial of David Saul Alvarez Reyes, who was 15 at the time of the slaying, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Barbara Cooke stated, “The events that night led to Joel’s final celebration.” Reyes is being tried as an adult, and four days have been set aside to hear the case.

In her opening remarks to the jury, Cooke claimed that Reyes and his friends had not been invited to the event and had crashed the quinceañera. Reyes’ defense attorney, Vaughan Jones, dismissed the notion that Reyes was not invited, citing the event had been “loudly broadcast” on social media and had hundreds of people in attendance. Jones argued that Reyes fired in self-defense after Gonzalez-Alvarado’s friends followed him and his friends into the restroom and initiated a fight. The attorney added that Reyes was outnumbered 3-1 by the people in Gonzalez-Alvarado’s group, making it a difficult situation.

Cooke identified Reyes as the teen who fired the fatal shots, and his co-defendants, Brayan C. Izaguirre-Cuellar, Yahir Estuardo Barrientos, and Kevin Benitez Sorto, also face similar murder and firearm charges for allegedly acting in concert with Reyes. Detectives recovered spent cartridge casings from 9mm and .22-caliber firearms, and Reyes allegedly fired the .22-caliber weapon.

During the chaos that followed the shooting, Chesterfield sheriff’s Deputy Donte Govine, who was providing security at the party, shot and wounded another party-goer, Kenny Juarez-Arriola, after the deputy saw Juarez-Arriola fire a gun into the air in the parking lot. Shwaryln E. Arriola, an off-duty Richmond police officer attending the celebration and the half-brother of Juarez-Arriola, pushed Govine twice after he shot his brother. Arriola later pleaded no contest to assaulting the deputy and resigned from the Richmond police.

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