A pair of 20-year-old Charlotte men face murder charges after an argument outside a Rock Hill bar Saturday morning turned into a deadly shooting that killed a York man who was a breadwinner for his younger siblings.
Quick action by county deputies after the suspects fled led to the arrests and to the recovery of a gun believed to be used in the crime, according to Rock Hill police.
Rigo Tovar, 31, an immigrant from Mexico who worked heavy equipment for an irrigation company and had been in the United States almost 20 years, died on the pavement outside the bar. Tovar died from the gunshot wound, said Sabrina Gast, York County Coroner.
The shooting happened around 2:10 a.m. outside the Modelo Bar & Grill, 1807 Cherry Road, a place located in a shopping plaza across the street from Sullivan Middle School, said Lt. Brad Redfearn, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department. An argument started, turned physical, then Tovar was shot, Redfearn said.
The suspects fled but were caught by late-shift York County deputies who had been alerted to look for the suspects, Redfearn said.
"The sheriff's office did a great job in detaining these men as quickly as possible," Redfearn said.
Lt. Mike Baker, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said the arrest is another example of crucial cooperation between law enforcement - in this case a "be on the lookout order," or "BOLO" was sent out and deputies made the traffic stop and arrest before the suspects could escape into North Carolina.
According to police, Raul Edgardo Contreras, 20, of 6509 Biden Court, Charlotte; and Isidro Alejandro Barrios, 20, of 5905 Farm Pond Road, Apt 208, Charlotte, are both charged with murder and criminal conspiracy.
Both are being held in jail without bond.
A separate shooting incident in a parking lot on Iredell Street in Rock Hill at around 1:30 a.m. where one man was injured, but not with life threatening injuries, does not appear to be related to the deadly shooting at the bar, Redfearn said. No arrests have been made in that case.
In York Saturday, the killing of Tovar shocked and saddened people in the mobile home park where Tovar lived. Younger siblings wearing "York Cougars" sweatshirts - York is the home of the Cougars high school teams - tried to deal with grief and figure out how to bury him.
The oldest of seven siblings, Tovar was single and had no children, said cousin Pedro Tovar. Yet he looked after his younger family and gave much of his earnings to the raising of the rest of the family, said his cousin.
"He was always there for anyone, a very generous person," said Pedro Tovar.
Tovar came as a child almost 20 years ago to the U.S. from Coahuila state just south of the Texas border, said his family, and had a reputation as an expert at using a reverse hoe, grader, and other heavy equipment requiring great skill. Outside of work, Tovar loved NASCAR and even had a Dale Earnhardt tattoo covering much of his right arm. A big man at just over 6 feet tall and 240 pounds, Tovar often wore a cowboy hat, hunted, drove a Chevy Silverado pickup truck, loved rodeo and the outdoors.
A favorite saying of Tovar's, repeated several times Saturday because Tovar used it all the time, was Larry the Cable Guy's, "Get 'er done!"
Rigo Tovar was also a devout Christian, family said - he wore a medallion around his neck featuring the Virgin Mary. Pedro Tovar, the cousin described Rigo Tovar in the most loving way as "a redneck," because of Tovar's affinity to so many things loved by other blue-collar, hard-working Southerners - family, religion, the outdoors, trucks, and more - except that Rigo was born in Mexico.
"He wanted to have a big 4-wheel drive truck," said friend Miguel DeLuna. "I just hope they have heavy equipment in heaven, because that is what Rigo loved."