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Family Honors Local Slain Teen on His 15th Birthday


Xavier Gonzalez’s mother and three sisters sit in front of his grave to celebrate what should have been his 15th birthday. | Image by Rebecca Slezak/Dallas Morning News

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The family of a teenager slain in a shooting that left two other teenagers dead and one injured gathered to honor him on what would have been his 15th birthday.

Xavier Gonzalez was killed at a Garland gas station, along with Ivan Noyola, 15, and Rafael Garcia, 17, after Abel Elias Acosta, 14, allegedly shot them in the 700 block of West Walnut Street around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 26. A 15-year-old cook, who had just started working at the taqueria inside the store, was wounded and taken to the hospital.

Xavier’s family gathered on Sunday, July 10, around his grave to remember him and celebrate his 15th birthday, which was coming up the next day, according to The Dallas Morning News.

“He wanted [a party], so he’s going to have it,” said Lluneli Gonzalez, Xavier’s mother.

Around 80 family members and friends gathered around the 14-year-old’s grave on Sunday evening to remember the teenager. Many in attendance wore T-shirts with green accents and photos of Xavier printed on them.

Even though Lluneli said she wanted the event to feel more like a celebration of life, she and her three daughters could not do much to stop their tears from flowing over the teenager’s grave.

Lluneli told the DMN that she and her son had dreamed of his big 15, which would have been a coming-of-age celebration for the teenager. Xavier, who wanted to be a cowboy or a ranch hand, owned cattle and had planned on slaughtering one of them for meat on his birthday. His mother had also rented a ballroom for hundreds in anticipation of the occasion.

Xavier’s cows are now running free, according to his mother. Instead of the planned ballroom, two pop-up tents were staked into the ground next to his grave. His cowboy boots and hat, photos from his horse racing, and a portrait of him in his Garland High School football jersey were arranged neatly in front of his grave.

“I feel like he’s going to be watching us, happy,” Lluneli said.

Friends and family stayed late into the night at the cemetery. Lluneli said the whole day made her happy, and she would have loved for Xavier to be around to celebrate it.

“I couldn’t have him there,” Lluneli said. “But I felt him. I had my little angel looking out for everything that we did for him.”

Abel Accosta, the teenager who authorities believe shot Xavier, is still on the run. His father, Richard Acosta Jr., is currently in the Dallas County jail on capital murder charges. Richard is accused of driving the getaway car that helped Abel flee the shooting scene.

“Abel is still out and about. He is still in the wind,” Lt. Richard Maldonado, a spokesman for the Garland Police Department, told the DMN.

Garland police said the shooting was a targeted attack on some of the store patrons in retaliation for an earlier incident that Xavier reportedly had no part in.

Tom Petrowski, an assistant professor of criminology at Tarleton State University and retired FBI agent, maintained that Garland police are still investigating the case with the same dedication as on the day of the shooting. Petrowski added that police will not let up on the case until Abel is in custody.

Petrowski also speculated that Abel could be disguising himself with facial hair and a mask, and family members could be harboring him.

Garland PD and Jerry Reynolds, the president of Car Pro Radio Network and owner of the radio station KPIR, have offered a combined $10,000 dollar reward for information leading to Abel’s arrest.

“This young man was an individual involved in a horrible crime, and we need to bring some resolution to the families,” Maldonado said of Abel Acosta. “We’re not going to be able to conclude this without the public’s help.”

Lluneli Gonzalez also pleaded with the public and anyone with information to come forward.

“We want justice,” she said. “Don’t stay quiet, anybody [who] knows something, please say it. Don’t be afraid.”

Anyone with information that could lead to Abel’s arrest is encouraged to call Homicide Investigator Lucas Shupe at 972-485-4869. Tipsters may also submit their tips to Crime Stoppers at 972-272-8477 or garlandcrimestoppers.org.     

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