ARLINGTON - All day long, people stopped by Zona Caliente on South Cooper in Arlington with flowers and heavy hearts. It's still unbelievable to them that 37-year-old Cesar Perez, the bar's well-liked manager, is gone.
"As soon as I hear the pop, I looked that way, Cesar hit the ground," said one eyewitness, who didn't want to be identified. He was still too shaken by what he witnessed Wednesday night.
"It was something crazy," he said. "Crazy."
Police say 48-year-old James Jones, of Grand Prairie, walked into the bar and started yelling incoherently.
"He was saying, 'Oh, who worked for the cartel?'" the witness said. "'F Mexicans. You deserve to die.'"
As Perez approached him to calm him down, police say Jones fatally shot him in the face and chest. It was then, police say, a customer who was carrying a concealed gun returned fire on the suspect, killing him.
The restaurant has what the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission calls a "blue sign," indicating that concealed handgun license carriers can indeed carry concealed weapons in their establishment.
"We don’t have any plans to charge him," said Lt. Chris Cook, and Arlington police spokesman.
Cook said that man's actions likely saved other lives. Police say Jones had a second loaded handgun in his pocket, as well as two knives. They also said the second handgun had its serial number scratched off, which could indicate it was stolen.
"We don’t know what his motivation was but clearly if he wanted to do additional harm, he definitely had the weapons to do that," Cook said.
No one answered the door to the suspect's south Grand Prairie home Thursday, and neighbors had little insight. County records show the Jones household receives a disabled veteran tax exemption.
"A guy with a gun saved us, but a guy with a gun went and tried to kill us," said the eyewitness.
It's a lot to process for him. He lost a friend in Perez, a young man who was a father and a staple in the Arlington restaurant community.
A vigil was held at the restaurant for Cesar Perez Thursday evening:
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