March 3rd, 2009
10:06 AM ET

Dad gunned down while kids watch

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/02/art.crime.split.suspects.jpg caption="Composite sketches of two suspects wanted in the fatal shooting of a man at 6724 Avenue V on Dec. 19, 2008."]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Jose Alvarenga was a husband and father. He was also a pastor. And he was gunned down in front of his children.

The case haunts Sgt. Eli Cisneros. A 17-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, Cisneros has been with the Homicide Division for the last two years. Cisneros is determined to find the monsters who terrorized and destroyed the Alvarenga family on December 19, 2008.

It was around 4:55am. The house at 6724 Avenue V was quiet, and crowded. Mr. Alvarenga was upstairs with his wife in the master bedroom. Their 5 and 7-year-old sons were in the adjoining room. Downstairs, the couple's 17 and 15-year-old daughters were in their beds. Mr. Alvarenga's sister-in-law was sleeping with her 5-year-old daughter on a couch.

The gunmen approached the back entrance. They did not enter with stealth. They simply kicked the door in. The noise startled Mr. Alvarenga. As he made his way downstairs, he was confronted by the killers. Investigators say the one with the weapon ordered him to the ground while the other walked upstairs and demanded valuables from Mrs. Alvarenga.

On the first floor, Mr. Alvarenga, his daughters, sister-in-law, and her young child, were rounded up and ordered to lie on the ground. The gunman said he wanted money, drugs or gold. Mr. Alvarenga tried to reason with the intruders. He told them they had the wrong house. The killer replied by raising his gun, bringing it close to Mr. Alvaregna's chest and pulling the trigger.

The second suspect raced downstairs. When the victim's oldest child looked at him from the floor, he kicked her in the face. As he was dying, Mr. Alvarenga pleaded with the killers not to harm his family. Sgt. Cisneros says Mr. Alvaregna told the intruders "We don't have any money, please don't hurt or shoot anyone else."

The murderers left the house. But moments later, a third suspect walked in. He stared at the family, put his finger to his mouth and whispered "shhhh" before leaving.

The 17-year-old girl, who was kicked by the intruder, ran outside to see the suspects leaving in a white van. She described it as an older model Ford Econoline with a dent in the back bumper that formed a "V" pattern.

Two of the victims provided descriptions of the suspects. Composite sketches have been released to the public. (Click here to see the sketches and to read more details about the gunmen). Sgt. Cisneros wants to solve this case quickly. "I have kids myself," he says, "and I can't imagine what was going through Mr. Alvarenga's mind while he was being shot in front of his kids."

If you have any information, contact the Houston Police Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. James T. Grimes

    We all know that when gun's are outlawed only the outlaws will have gun's. America, we need to arm ourselves, get trained in how to use them, research the law's that allow us to use them and when we can and start defending ourselves. Our court's, law enforcement and politican's are doing very little to nothing to provide us with any protection. It's up to us!! When the average thug realizes that we common citizens have wepons to respond with and can and will meet force with force then they will slow down on their crap. The thug's will never completely stop robbing, invading our homes ect but we CAN slow it down if we fight back and not roll over because we don't have wepons or don't know how or when to use them.

    May God have mersey on this famikly and all the other families that have been and will in the future become victoms of any crime.

    And to all you politican's who think that you can pass laws to try and take our gun's from us just remember this. If you do try and take them from the American people note that you don't have enough jail's, prison's ect to put all of us into when we refuse to give them up!!! You don't have the space to hold all the thugs you have now just think of what you will face when the few million of us citizens refuse your gun control laws you think you want to pass.

    March 4, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  2. Mark

    Until the laws in this country change via putting those to death when caught for these sort of crimes.....we are going to see so much more of this. I blame America! Sentence those to death and carry it out without appeals, etc....too many sitting behind bars today for 20 plus years for murders....again, I blame America!

    March 4, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  3. lisa

    a tragedy. i hope this family can pick up the shattered pieces of their lives.

    March 4, 2009 at 8:56 am |
  4. Va girl

    You know, my first thought was they were illegally here to begin with and then I realized that kind of judgement, that kind of prejudice might help to create such monsters, so I corrected myself and will watch my quick assumptions and prejudices. Giving a person no respect, no hope, no future may make a person do things they wouldnt' do otherwise, but there is no excuse for this kind of crime. Nothing we write here will make it better or solve the problem but I just wanted to express my outrage at this crime and to add that my prayers are with these people and all of us living in this world today.

    March 3, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  5. tino

    people these days make me sick. hope they caught and get what they deserve. my heart goes out to this family.

    March 3, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  6. strawberry

    out w/ illegals– where are ur ancestors from? If it wasnt for those hardworking "illegals" you wouldnt have a public clean restroom. Unfortunately "americans" are to proud to do those jobs. The "illegal" come & do jobs that we legal wont do, why? because were so proud. Yeah, were so proud that we will go & stand on the unemployment line for hours instead of finding a real job. C'mon lets be honest, who are the real fools. before you respond– stop, take a deep breath & think about it. It would requires us to put our pride aside, but what will the other family members or friends think .

    These punks that did this crime are no different than the blue-collar that sit around & do their social drugs while their children sleep in the next room. Why kill urself slowly just do us all a favor–pull the trigger & save us some tax payer $$$.

    March 3, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  7. Jan

    What a grusome tragedy! What is the world coming to? An innocent family destroyed in seconds. I hope these killers get caught & are sent to death row. Right after Casey Anthony gets hers.

    March 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  8. Uncle Whitey

    I think the lethal injection route is too easy on these bums. I believe a length of rope and a tree is pretty cheap and very effective mode of punishment.

    I wish the father had a firearm and knew how to use it. It might have put a quick stop to these home invasions. These guys will eventually mess with the wrong people.

    March 3, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  9. CC

    For years I have never wanted a gun in my house...never wanted to think the world was that bad that I had to "go there".

    I'm driving by and looking into buying what it will take to protect my family tonight. Never to late to wake up I guess.

    God bless the family

    March 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  10. James

    You guys bringing up the right to bear arms, this was a pastor, a man of peace. I'm a pro-gun guy, I have more than a few and I carry one most of the time, but that isn't an option for everyone and it shouldn't be expected that everyone will arm themselves. Besides, how easy would it be to go free-fire in a house full of children? Now, of course there is a penchant among the anti-gun lobby to use tragedy to pursue their agendas and to be frank that's only slightly more disgusting than just declaring that the man should've been armed if he wanted to be secure. There are a million things that can be done to improve a house's security. Start with lights activated with motion sensors and a steel door and door frame with a 1" bolt. Get some of those cheap alarms that are self-contained and powered by a watch battery and put them on windows and doors. These are very loud and will probably rouse the whole neighborhood. If you're opposed to a gun, get something small and maneuverable, in a tight spaces you're not going to get the opportunity to swing a bat or a golf club, perhaps a small length of pipe or a billy club. Whatever you choose as a home weapon, TRAIN WITH IT. The biggest issue with firearms is that people who buy them don't train enough with them. The same can be said for tasers, mace, or pepper spray. If you don't know how to get to an item and activate it effectively and easily in a high stress situation then you're not adequately trained to use it. The most important thing is to be aware. Usually people like this will case a target first. Report suspicious people around your house and when implementing protective measures be sure to consider possible countermeasures (that steel door does you know good when the window next to it can be broken to access the door).

    March 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  11. sondra

    this is really sad i hope they get the 3 gun men prayers go out for the whole family

    March 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  12. david

    Should have gave them what they wanted........

    March 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  13. I hate ignorance

    Hey 'out with illegals', are you simple or just plain dumb? The man shot and his family are of hispanic heritage. You disrespect them by even bringing illegals into the discussion. Tell me...how do you know that the murderers are illegals? Because of the way they look? If looks are the only qualification to your assumption then you are a bigot and a racist. But I have a feeling you already know that. People like you need the internet and blogs such as this because you are too cowardly to show your true feelings in the real world, you hide behind anonymity.

    My heart and prayers go out the the family who lost so much. I hope the police catch up with these killers and bring them to justice.

    March 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  14. hecnut69

    yeah, O.K. ileagals? there the only one's doing this. You sound like a five year old, why dont you do something more productive like maybe finishing high school or something.

    March 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  15. K

    Kudos to the 17 year-old for risking further injury to see what their vehicle looked like. Hopefully the persons who did this will be apprehended quickly.

    March 3, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  16. Christina Los Angeles, California

    out with illegals–you are ignorant!

    March 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  17. Steve

    When reading stories like this..and there are many, I'm more and more inclined to agree with Mr. Ted Nugent. I would love to see his submission again. Guns and dangerous people are NEVER going to go away. Law abiding citizens are the only people affected by guns laws. If I had to choose between hoping that the authorities can somehow prevent these tragedies and being responsibly armed and capable, I'd go with the latter. I'm blessed with a beautiful wife and 3 wonderful children, so god help anyone who kicks in my door in the middle of the night. Like it or not, the world is a dangerous place, and I'll bet my salary that anyone who has gone through this has said to themselves..."If had some protection...maybe my loved one would still be here". If only.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:40 pm |
  18. out with illegals

    This country will be so much better off without illegals, which i'm positive these guys were. They don't respect the citizens of this country, they don't appreciate anything here, all they do is want, want want, complain, complain, complain, they try to force our government and taxpayers to provide for them, yet they can't force, expect and demand from their own?! ridiculous!

    March 3, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  19. Sherry

    What a horrible thing to have happen to a family. I hope they are caught and the death penalty is given for such a cruel and heartless crime.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  20. J

    The second amendment provides an very effective solution for such situations, of course people need to take responsibility and exercise said amendment.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  21. n

    I hope they find these guys and make them suffer for a real long time. People like those idiots do not deserve to live.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  22. Sabrina

    I cannot believe this world today.... some people just have no heart. This is absolutely rediculous and scary. It's like, "get a fricken job" and go buy your own drugs and gold ya know.

    March 3, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  23. lisa

    We waste more money keeping them in jail. if they don't have a heart or respect for people. we will save money and save lives if we force the death penalty .

    March 3, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  24. Debbie

    My heart and prayers go out for this family. They want to do away with the death penalty after this? Imagine if it happened to one of their families.

    March 3, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  25. Regular Dude

    Lucky that wasnt my home or their would be 3 dead guys. My gun finishes what the pitbull doesn't. I give my prayers to this family.

    March 3, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  26. Eames

    Instead of worrying about killing these guys, how about we concentrate on FINDING them first? We're all so busy concerning ourselves with an eye for an eye that we're forgetting that murderers are still on the loose. Personally, the best justice that could be done for this family would be for funding to be put toward tracking these people down and convicting them of exactly the crime they committed, not warming up the electric chair for when (if) these terrible men ever get there.

    March 3, 2009 at 11:11 am |

    Please do not let the government take away our right to bear arms!!!
    If they do then this kind of thing will only get worse since they will know their victims are for sure unarmed. God bless this family

    March 3, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  28. Tina

    Horrible and senseless. This is exactly why the death penalty is important. These perps are scum.

    March 3, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  29. Nick

    They are doing away with the death penalty because it is too expensive...how much does a single bullet cost? They walked up and shot this man to death in front of his children, why not save the tax payers some money and just shoot them? Ill supply the bullet and gun, no cost to tax payers...

    March 3, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  30. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    A great case for the death penalty...

    March 3, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  31. Common Sense

    Absolutely horrible tragedy! This innocent victimized family are heroes for their courage and calm sanity in providing details and description. These barbaric criminals need to pay with ALL their possessions, and pay with their sweat to provide free labor and lifetime compensation to help this family try to cope with this tragedy and get back to some semblance of normalcy. Our hearts go out to this innocent family and especially the young children!

    March 3, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  32. Shanel

    The devil is very busy-that's his job. Just like people get up in the morning and prepare to go to work, these demon seeds get up with intentions to bring harm and destruction.

    I experienced the same situation in my new small hometown, nestled off I-95 betweed Baltimore & Philadelphia. Luckily for me, we weren't harmed. I later learned that all the wannabe drug dealers and thugs have easy access to my town, because it's right off the interstate.

    My prayers go out for this family and the community. They can run, but they can't hide. One will eventually turn on the other...

    March 3, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  33. Peter Ortiz

    This is the saddest stroy ever written, even the perpetrators must feel some level of sadness fore we all come from a long of familial lineage that protected even their lives as helpless babies, such a sad day for humans-

    March 3, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  34. bobby perez

    i feel for the family and my prayers are with them,but one good thing is i live in texas and we excute cowards and punks like that every year,so it's just a matter of time before these scumbags are caught and convicted and put to death.

    March 3, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  35. Justice

    Ironically, some states are considering suspending the death penalty in order to save money. With people like this out there, that shouldnt be an option.

    March 3, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  36. Jessica K

    My thoughts and prayers go out to this poor family as they try to struggle through this very difficult time. This is such a senseless tragedy! I hope they catch the suspects so that justice can prevail.

    March 3, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  37. meenas17

    Horrible. An innocent man gruesomely murdered in front of his family. The family would have been in a truama. Are the killers human? No. They are beasts in the form of men..Ghastly and terrible

    March 3, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  38. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    What a tragedy-–life is fragile, very fragile.

    March 3, 2009 at 9:30 am |