Family and friends say they want people to remember 19-year-old Devonte "Bubba" Ortiz for who he really was.
“He was so smart and brave and outgoing,” Kniyah Pollard, one of his best friends, said Friday outside the Pleasant Hill Apartments in Southeast Austin. Ortiz was shot and killed in the parking lot of the complex early on the Fourth of July during an argument over fireworks.
Ortiz’s grandmother Paula Watrous, also known as "Nana,” said he was loved by a large community.
“This is fresh. This is a sad occasion, but we got to tell his story,” she said.
Ortiz went to William B. Travis High School where he was on the A/B honor roll and played on the football team. After graduating in 2017, he attended Blinn College for a short time before returning home to Austin.
“[When] everyone heard his laugh … everyone laughed,” said his girlfriend, Amber Garcia. "It’s just like so extra.”
Pollard said she wants people to remember how happy he was.
“Devonte was a really loving person,” she said. “All of the little kids at Travis they looked up to him, even the little kids here at the apartment complex.”
Jason Roche, 41, has been charged with first-degree murder; a bond has been set at $250,000. According to an affidavit, he said he shot the teen in self-defense after seeing a gun.
Austin Police Department officials said the evidence contradicts that. Witnesses and a cellphone video don't show Ortiz with a gun. The APD also said autopsy results led them to believe Ortiz was moving away from Roche's firearm.
The case is under investigation.