Two charged in fatal shooting of man killed outside of south Charlotte restaurant minutes after embracing others inside

Two charged in fatal shooting of man killed outside of south Charlotte restaurant minutes after embracing others inside

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Two people have been charged with the fatal shooting of a 41-year-old man outside of Restaurante Lempira in south Charlotte on Monday night.

Gerardo Lagunes and Juan Deras Escalante were both arrested in connection to the shooting of Domingo Venancio-Tapia.

Police say at 3:11 p.m. they arrived at Coulee Place to serve an arrest warrant for Escalante. Nearby residents were relocated as a precaution while the SWAT Team and authorities set up a perimeter to find him.

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After an eight hour standoff with SWAT and not speaking with negotiators, Escalante was taken into custody and transported to police headquarters. After being interviewed, he will be charged with murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and four counts of shooting into an occupied property.

Lagunes was located and arrested before being sent to police headquarters. He was later sent Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and charged with murder.

The moments leading up to the shooting were caught on camera.

WBTV’s Anne Marie Hagerty reviewed the surveillance video with the restaurant’s management group. In the video, two groups of men inside order food to go, then start talking to each other. The men shook hands and embraced. After that, they grabbed bags of food and walked out the door.

Right after they walked outside, shots were fired.

“Just very sad we’re shocked to see what happened,” said Mauricio Blanco, director for company that manages the restaurant.

“The restaurant has been open for 11 years and nothing like this has happened in 11 years,” said Blanco.

Venancio-Tapia was shot right outside the restaurant’s door.

Blanco says he arrived at the restaurant minutes after it happened.

“At the end of the day you’re talking about a life, talking about a human being,” said Blanco.

Tuesday, employees worked to fill in bullet holes left in the restaurant’s wall.

“We are sad to see it was at our restaurant, at a place where we do the best we can every single day to serve the community,” said Blanco.

Sarahi Banegas said she comes to the restaurant often and the shooting has her shaken.

“It’s like you have to come here knowing what happened or risking yourself because I bring my kids too," said Banegas.

The management team at the restaurant says they are committed to helping Venancio-Tapia’s family.

Police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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