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'Spiritual message' drove man to kill coworker at Baton Rouge hotel, police say

6 months 1 week 23 hours ago Wednesday, February 02 2022 Feb 2, 2022 February 02, 2022 2:00 PM February 02, 2022 in Crime
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A man accused of shooting his coworker to death at a capital area hotel told police he was spiritually motivated to carry out the killing.

The Baton Rouge Police Department said the gunman, identified as 45-year-old David Mendez of San Bernardino, California, was taken into custody shortly after the shooting at the Sleep Inn on Plaza Americana Drive around 4 a.m. Wednesday. Mendez was still at the hotel when police arrived and was taken into custody without further incident. 

At the hotel, officers found 26-year-old Juan Reyes Lugos dead from multiple gunshot wounds. According to arrest records, Mendez told officers "he is gone, I shot him and the gun is in the hamper." 

Police said Mendez and the victim both worked for the same construction company and were sharing a hotel room.

Once in custody, Mendez told police he was influenced by Santa Muerte, a controversial religious figure originating in Mexico.

"It is due to some type of spiritual reason as to why he felt that he needed to kill the individual that he was in the room with," BRPD spokesperson L'Jean McKneely said. "They met while working on a project here in Baton Rouge, and they were all hanging out last night. And this morning, he received a messagea spiritual message—that encouraged him to kill a victim."

Mendez was booked on a charge of second-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon. 

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