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‘Don’t die on me, I need you!’ 911 calls offer no reason why St. Johns man shot his neighbor, then himself

Chavez

Chavez

Three 911 calls on a May 14 afternoon are each distressing chapters in the same sad story.

One comes from Anthony Carl Chavez’s son as he frantically performs CPR on him in front of their Servia Drive home in St. Johns County.

“Tony, Tony, do not die on me,” he is heard saying as the 911 dispatcher is typing and sirens are heard. “They’re coming. Don’t die on me, I need you!”

The second 911 call is from a frightened neighbor who has just locked herself indoors after seeing an older man waving a gun, once at her, as he walks from the cul-de-sac.

“He’s been known to, like, pull his gun out before multiple times,” she told a dispatcher. “There’s some people in the cul-de-sac, and he was walking from the cul-de-sac back toward his house. And he had the gun in his hand.”

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And the third is the closing chapter as a man tells a dispatcher that a neighbor is dead in a backyard.

“My neighbor just shot himself,” the caller immediately says, with approaching sirens wailing in the background. “It looks that way. He’s in the back, on the back lawn.”

‘Senseless violence’

The incident report does not say much about what led up to the shootings at about 3:30 pm that Saturday on the suburban road off St. Johns Parkway.

The report said a handgun was found near 74-year-old Jose Alberto Melendez’s body behind his home.

A search of court records shows no local criminal pasts for either man. And Chavez family members told Action News Jax he did not even know him.

Melendez was walking his dog as Chavez and son Gabriel Thoma worked on a car in the cul-de-sac. He was staring them down, but it was brief and Thoma told Action News he did not think much about it.

A short while later the older man walked over and said something to Chavez, and pulled out the gun. Chavez only had time to say “Whoa” before he was shot twice, Thoma told the TV news station. Melendez started shooting at Thoma, who ran behind a car and then called 911 as he tried to save his father.

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Another Servia Drive neighbor told First Coast News there has been “drama over there,” some kind of arguments, but he did not know specifics.

In a GoFundMe plea for funeral expenses, Jessica Chavez wrote that her husband was such a loving person and “Everyone who knew him knows that he had a big heart. This horrible incident was not expected in any way. Senseless violence.”

Despair and mortality on 911 calls

The 911 calls depict a gripping scene after the gunshots that hit Chavez and the one that killed Melendez minutes later.

Performing CPR on Chavez, Thoma immediately tells the dispatcher he has been shot twice. He says he’s an EMT student trying to save him.

“I just need you to get here ASAP, please!” he says.

He identifies the shooter as “a man who lives down the street. It looks like we are past his house,” he says, then returns his attention to Chavez.

He says he is not breathing after being shot in the back and side,

“Stay alive Tony, you’re with me,” he is heard saying, then addresses the dispatcher. “Please come, please.”

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The dispatcher tells him help “is coming as fast as they can” as she reassures him, telling him to continue CPR.

“I got this, I got this,” he responds, telling the dispatcher the gunman went back to his house. He tells the dispatcher again that he is an EMT student and just graduated.

“He’s trying to breathe, he’s trying to breathe,” the young man relays, then talks to Chavez again, urging him to stay alive.

“You are not going to die on me. I am not going to let them kill you,” the call ending as he says “the cops just got here.”

St.  Johns County Sheriff's Office investigators gather behind Jose Melendez's home on Servia Drive after his body was discovered there.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office investigators gather behind Jose Melendez’s home on Servia Drive after his body was discovered there.

The woman neighbor fills in some more of what happened, telling the dispatcher she went outside after hearing “some loud noises.” That’s when she saw the man who “lives a few doors down” with a gun that he’s displayed before.

The caller describes the gunman as older, wearing a hat and gray T-shirt, who “made eye contact” with her, then started walking her way. So she ran into her home and called 911.

“I guess somebody in the cul-de-sac p **** ed him off or something,” she says.

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She says she also saw a man believed to have been the first 911 caller “on the phone, freaking out” as he was also apparently calling police for help.

As first responders arrive following the first two callers, the third neighbor calls 911 about the body in Melendez’s backyard.

No one else is there, the neighbor says as he tells the dispatcher it does not appear the man is breathing. Someone else is then heard speaking with the caller, and they both say “Oh, he’s shot himself.”

“There’s the gun,” the caller says to whoever has come into the yard with him, followed by lots of talking as the dispatcher tries to get more information.

“Oh, the cops are here. I’m going to go,” the caller says before that call ends.

dscanlan@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4549

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: 911 calls released in St. Johns murder-suicide between neighbors

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