By Jeffry Wolf
The brutal violence terrorizing Mexican border towns hit home for a Colorado family Thursday. Armed commandos killed an Aurora man in Mexico Wednesday, according to the family and several Mexican media reports.
The murder happened in the northern Mexican border region, an area the U.S. State Department has urged Americans to avoid if possible because of ongoing cartel violence.
According to family members, Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal was murdered in his own home early Wednesday morning. Suspected drug cartel gunman shot him up to eighty times with automatic weapons. According to the Mexican newspaper El Diario, 90 shell casings were found near the scene of the shooting outside Reyes-Neal's home in Ciudad Juarez.
"They kicked in the door," Matthew Reyes-Neal, the victim's brother, said. "He was protecting his family."
"They beat my cousin," Athena Bateman said. "They beat him in the house and dragged him outside and shot him."
"My nephew ran over and he said, 'Why is my Dad dead?'" Matthew Reyes-Neal said.
Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal was just 21 years old. He moved his family to Mexico two years ago when his wife Tania was denied U.S. citizenship. According to family members, Tania's parents smuggled her to Colorado when she was a baby.
Jake and Tania met at Aurora Central High school when they were 16. They became high school sweethearts who fell in love, got married, and had a son named Anthony who is now 3. Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal's wife and son survived the attack.
"He loved his son," Matthew Reyes-Neal said. "He loved his wife so much."
Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal told family members he worried about the ongoing violence in Mexico.
"His worst fear was becoming a statistic. And that's what he became," Matthew Reyes-Neal said.
9NEWS called the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Wednesday afternoon. A spokesman said he was "aware" of Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal's murder but would not release any other information.
The Reyes-Neal family insisted Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal was not involved with the cartels. They said he worked as a mechanic and was killed when he got into a fight with a suspected cartel member who tried steal his truck.
According to the family, twenty men returned to the house several hours later and killed Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal and another 18-year-old man.
Then they allegedly stole almost everything in the house, including the food in the fridge.
Earlier in the week, Jake and Tania were celebrating.
"She's pregnant," Bateman said. "My cousin will never get to see his second baby."
Now family members are grieving. Jake Marlowe Reyes-Neal's mother crossed into Mexico Wednesday to identify his body and bring it back to the United States.
"He's dead now. He's gone," Bateman said. "And we never get him back."