HAZLETON — The emotions of family members of a 19-year-old Hazleton man who died from gunshot wounds boiled over outside a courtroom after the shooting suspect’s arraignment Friday.
City police and the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office charged Adamis Arias, 20, with criminal homicide in the Feb. 23 deadly shooting of Angel Villalobos on West Maple Street. He was arraigned before District Judge Joseph Zola and remanded to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail to await his arraignment on April 17.
After the arraignment, Cathy Villalobos, the victim’s sister, spoke to the media about the homicide charge filed against Arias.
“We knew it was him,” Cathy Villalobos said. “We’re leaving it in the hands of one God and the attorneys and detectives. We know that he is eventually going to get what he deserves.”
While investigators allege that Arias shot Villalobos during an argument about money, Villalobos’ sister said there was more to it.
“This was an ongoing harassment from the guy’s part to my brother,” she said. “They’ve known each other since we’ve been in this town. They had issues for a long time. He felt disrespected, and sometimes they get caught up; they think this is the movies and they have to act tough and they make mistakes that will cost them.”
The family has grown closer since the shooting and is holding up as well as can be expected, Cathy Villalobos said.
She said her younger brother had a 10-month-old son who is “his spitting image. … That’s our little bundle of joy. We keep Angel’s memory alive because he was just like his son, very happy, very giddy. Everybody who knew him loved him.”
Minutes later, as Arias was being escorted from the office of District Judge Joseph Zola to a police car, someone shouted at Arias. He shouted back, using vulgar language. Moments later, an altercation broke out between members of the Villalobos family and a friend or relative of Arias. Police quickly broke it up and all parties left.
Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea recapped the events surrounding the homicide and arrest of Arias, noting that Arias had been wanted on an arrest warrant charging him with failure to appear for a court proceeding.
Court records say Arias was sentenced on Oct. 25, 2011, to four to 23 months in jail on charges he fired several rounds into an occupied vehicle on 15th Street in Hazleton on Dec. 15, 2010.
Police had received tips on Arias’ whereabouts and, while conducting surveillance on Feb. 25, apprehended him when they saw him leaving a house on North James Street. Since then, DeAndrea said, police compiled sufficient evidence to formally charge Arias with criminal homicide.
According to court papers, several witnesses put Arias at the scene of the shooting. One of the witnesses told police he saw Arias pull out a gun and point it at Villalobos. The witness also said Villalobos “went for the gun and Arias fired the first shot.”
“The investigation naturally continues, but at this point, the city police department is confident that we have in fact filed formal charges against the killer of Angel Villalobos,” DeAndrea said.