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Man charged with fatal shooting

Illegal immigrant suspected in Hall County’s first homicide of 2008

POSTED: May 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.
For The Times/

Hugo M. Tepanca is being held in the Hall County Jail without bond on accusations of shooting 23-year-old Jose Vargas to death Sunday evening.

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One Gainesville resident is dead and another is in jail in the first homicide case of 2008 for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Hugo M. Tepanca is being held in the Hall County Jail without bond on accusations of shooting 23-year-old Jose Vargas to death Sunday evening.

Tepanca, a 29-year-old illegal immigrant, has been charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

An immigration hold has been placed on Tepanca.

Both Vargas and Tepanca were Gainesville residents and have family in Gainesville, said Maj. Jeff Strickland.

A neighbor reported the shooting to police, and witnesses reported seeing an orange pickup truck drive away after the shots were fired, Strickland said.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Merck Street residence shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday evening to find Vargas, also an illegal immigrant, shot dead.

Within minutes, Tepanca was pulled over by a Gainesville police officer and turned over to Hall County authorities.

The quick arrest came after Hall County Dispatch placed a lookout on an orange truck and the ability of a Gainesville police officer to match that description to a vehicle driving on Atlanta Highway, Strickland said.

"The quick arrest in this homicide was ... the result of teamwork from three different agencies," Strickland said.

Authorities later found a firearm in the orange truck Tepanca had been driving, Strickland said.

The shooting is not believed to be related to drugs or gangs and was the result of an earlier confrontation between the two men, Strickland said.

Vargas and Tepanca reportedly did not know each other before meeting on the road.

"They had had an earlier confrontation while in their vehicles," Strickland said.

After the alleged confrontation, Tepanca followed Vargas to Merck Street, shooting Vargas multiple times after he got out of his vehicle in front of a home on Merck Street, according to Strickland.



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