Eighteen-year-old star rugby player Lloyd Chavez arranged via Snapchat back in May to sell a cheerleader $25 of flavored vape juice such as President Trump now says needs to be banned.
But according to an affidavit subsequently filed by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, the cheerleader and three teens with her decided to rob Lloyd instead. He was shot to death with an illegal handgun such as Trump seems to shrug off as just a factor of American life even as he makes us great again.
As recounted by a sheriff investigator’s probable cause affidavit, the cheerleader was 17-year-old Juliana Serrano. She had an after-school job at the Rock Bar and Restaurant in Aurora and worked on the night of May 8. Juliana’s mother, Lisa Serrano, was there, celebrating her 40th birthday. The mother later told police that her daughter departed around 9 p.m. in the company of three male teens. The mother identified one of them as 17-year-old Kenneth Gallegos.
Juliana Serrano was at the wheel of her silver Mazda. Gallegos was in the front passenger seat. The two other teens, identified as 18-year-old Dominic Stager and 16-year-old Demarea Deshawn Mitchell, were in the back. Stager is old enough for them to have legally purchased vape juice at a store, but they were allegedly looking to score some for nothing.
“It was the plan to steal the juice from Lloyd from the beginning,” the affidavit says Juliana told an investigator.
The four allegedly headed for Lloyd’s home.
“They were talking about what was going to ‘go down,’” the affidavit says. “They were hoping [Lloyd] would give her the ‘stuff’ and they were going to drive off. But if he did not, they were going to scare Lloyd. They weren’t going to shoot him. They were not going to kill him, which was never the plan.”
They arrived just before 9:30 p.m.
“[Juliana] sent Lloyd a text letting him know she was there,” the affidavit says she later told investigators.
Lloyd had been at a volleyball game earlier that night and had arrived home not a half hour before. His sister, Frankie Chavez, was in the living room watching television when Lloyd got the text.
“Lloyd went outside to ‘sell something,’” the affidavit says, summarizing an interview with Frankie.
Lloyd emerged from the house and proved to be more cautious than Juliana and the three other teens had hoped.
“It was their plan to have Lloyd give her the juice and she would drive off,” the affidavit says. “But he did not have it on him when [he] first approached them.”
The affidavit adds, “Lloyd walked up to her window and asked if she had the money. She told him she did.”
Juliana had not been prepared actually to pay.
“[Juliana] had to look for it, then gave it to him,” the affidavit says. “She handed the half-folded money to Lloyd. She thinks the outside bill was a $1 bill. She thinks she did see a $10 bill as well as several additional $1 bills.”
Only then did Lloyd go to fetch the vape juice.
“Lloyd did not say anything to her as he walked away but did put the money in a pocket,” the affidavit says.
Juliana remained in the car as at least two of the other teens climbed out. A gunshot rang out and Lloyd ran into his house.
“[Lloyd] screamed, screamed, screamed, screamed,” the affidavit quotes Juliana as saying.
Frankie later told investigators that the screaming was preceded by a loud “pop.”
“She heard Lloyd yell and he then came back inside and told her to call 911 because he had been shot,” the affidavit says, “She used Lloyd’s phone to call 911.”
A sheriff’s deputy arrived minutes later.
“Deputy DeVries responded to the address and observed several people in the doorway of the residence screaming,” the affidavit says. “[DeVries] observed a male lying just inside the front door on his back.”
The affidavit continues, “DeVries observed blood on Lloyd as well as one the carpet around him. [DeVries] saw a small entrance wound to Lloyd’s right chest just to the right of his nipple and it was barely bleeding… Lloyd was not conscious, but was breathing… Frankie was hysterical.”
Paramedics arrived. They covered the hole with a piece of material.
“Once a chest seal was applied to the wound, Lloyd began to open his eyes a little and move around but was still just moaning and not able to speak,” the affidavit says.
DeVries rode in the ambulance with Lloyd.
“Lloyd was in and out of consciousness, but was not able to answer any questions,” the affidavit says. “Upon arrival at the hospital, Deputy DeVries collected Lloyd’s jeans which were cut [off]. The jeans were wet and had blood on them. Lloyd’s shoes were collected and were wet. In Lloyd’s jean pocket was a wallet containing cash, a credit card, his driver’s license and a student ID from Cherokee Trail High School.”
Lloyd was briefly stabilized to where he could talk. DeVries asked Lloyd who shot him. The affidavit reports that his response was recorded by DeVries’ body camera.
Lloyd was then wheeled in for surgery. DeVries returned to the crime scene and joined in searching for shell casings.
“While on scene, Deputy DeVries was notified that Lloyd had passed away during surgery,” the affidavit says.
The affidavit reports that Lloyd’s family was so manifestly distraught at the hospital that the facility was “on lockdown.” The investigator “did not speak with anyone at the hospital due to their emotional state except for a brief conversation with Lloyd’s mother.” The mother, Cathy Spencer, had not been present at the time of the shooting. She said she had communicated with her son via text.
“Just confirming they were getting together for Mother’s Day,” the affidavit says.
The subsequent autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was a single gunshot wound.
“The bullet was recovered from the abdomen and found to be a .22 caliber bullet,” the affidavit says.
Sheriff investigators interviewed a friend who had been to the volleyball game with Lloyd and had dropped him off at his home less than 15 minutes before the shooting. The friend told the investigators that Lloyd said he was going to be selling vape juice to Juliana Serrano that night.
When investigators arrived at the Serrano house, the mother told them that Juliana was in her room with her boyfriend, Kenny. The investigators called for backup and arrested the two without incident.
A search failed to produce a gun. Juliana declined to permit the investigators to examine the contents of her cellphone and they obtained a search warrant.
“The last message is one from Juliana that has a picture of what she wants to buy from Lloyd and Lloyd responds to her with his address.”
Investigators questioned Juliana in her kitchen while her mother listened from the living room. The interview summary reports, “After the incident, they are all ‘freaking out.’ It was never their intention to go there and shoot Lloyd. They were all shocked and did not know what to do.”
She said Kenny came home with her, having been ejected from his own home a few days before.
“They went inside and went upstairs to her room,” the affidavit says, “They put a movie on. She talked about how scared and shocked she was. Kenny told her it was okay because they did not do anything.”
The affidavit says she told the investigator that after the shooting one of the teens had brought back the folded bills she had given Lloyd.
“Juliana and her mother allowed us to recover the money from her backpack, which we did,” the affidavit says. “The money was folded as she described and was $25.”
As Lloyd’s coach and classmates mourned the loss of someone they called a star both on and off the field, Juliana Serrano, Kenny Gallegos, and Dominic Stager pleaded not guilty after being charged as adults with felony murder. Demarea Mitchell has been charged as a juvenile. Juliana and Kenny have moved to be also treated as juveniles. The two are due back in court for hearings in October.
By then, flavored vapes may be banned.
Likely nothing meaningful will have been done to address gun violence—even as it claims an average of 100 Americans more in an afternoon than vapes have killed in a year.