Weslaco police: Fight at VIP table precipitated shooting

Jose Juan Espinoza, Juan Alberto Lopez, Shayla Lee Escalante

A fight broke out at a VIP party at a bar and restaurant in Weslaco early Monday morning before three people fired guns, police say.

Weslaco police arrested 22-year-old Mercedes resident Jose Juan Espinoza, 22-year-old Weslaco resident Juan Alberto Lopez and 19-year-old Weslaco resident Shayla Lee Escalante early Monday morning at the Sr. Mostacho restaurant and bar at 2307 W. Interstate Highway. Police had responded to a call of shots fired and a possible active shooter at around 1:30 a.m.

Police say they detained Lopez and Escalante, who were in a gray 2021 Jeep Wrangler with temporary plates, as soon as they arrived and then detained Espinoza after a witness said a man with a red polo shirt who had been in a white Ford F-250 also fired a gun.

“All three individuals admitted to shooting with a handgun at the scene prior to the officers arrival,” a probable cause affidavit states.

The witness told police the shooting broke out after a physical fight involving multiple people, including Lopez, inside the bar, according to the charging document.

“He reported Shayla Lee Escalante was shooting several rounds. He also reported Jose Juan Espinoza went to his vehicle identified as a white Ford F-250 and fired a few rounds with a gun,” the probable cause affidavit states.

When police interviewed the business’s manager, he said a man went to sit with another man at a VIP table before the fight and shooting occurred.

“He reported a fight broke out and employees attempted to separate the initial fight and other customers began to join in the fight at the VIP party,” according to the affidavit.

That’s when the manager told police he stepped outside to call them when he heard shots and saw a woman in a black dress with a gun in her hand before he went around to the back of the building for his safety, authorities say.

Another witness also told police they saw Escalante with a gun, according to the affidavit.

Aside from witness statements, Weslaco police say they also obtained video surveillance from Khan’s Grill, which is next door and had also sustained a gunshot to its window.

In that video, police say they saw several people fighting, including Lopez. Escalante is right behind him in the video before the pair walk away and get into the gray 2021 Jeep Wrangler, police say.

“They are seen on video driving to the front of Sr. Mostacho and get off to fight some again. Shayla is on video stepping off the passenger side of the vehicle and muzzle flashes are seen from her hand,” the affidavit states. “Shayla is on video firing three more shots with the gun. It was determined that one of the shots she fired was pointed above the head of two or three people who (were) fighting.”

Police say the video then shows them parking the vehicle.

All three are charged with deadly conduct discharge firearm and received $50,000 bonds.

Espinoza already bailed out, while Lopez and Escalante remain in jail, records show.