Sports Bar Management on CHL Customer who Shot, Killed Gunman: “We Are So Thankful for Him”

People attending a vigil Thursday evening in Arlington are remembering the sports bar manager who was fatally shot by a man who was then shot and killed by an armed customer.

The manager was identified as 37-year-old Cesar Perez, of Duncanville.

The large crowd gathered for a vigil in the parking lot and sidewalk outside Zona Caliente Sports Bar on South Cooper Street. They brought flowers, lit candles and wore white in remembrance of Perez.

"I mean, you hear about these things happening all the time and it's tragic, but you never think it would happen in one of your workplaces or a restaurant," said Zona Caliente manager, Lucia Garcia. "He came in to do some harm."

Arlington Police Lt. Christopher Cook said 48-year-old James Jones, of Grand Prairie, walked into Zona Caliente at about 6:15 p.m. Jones reportedly walked to the bar area and started yelling incoherently at people.

Witnesses and managers tell NBC 5 he was asking for members of the Mexican drug cartel.

Police have heard this as well, but cannot say for certain if that is the case. If the investigation finds that Jones did say these things, it could turn into a hate crime.

Perez reportedly walked to the bar and tried to calm Jones, but that's when Jones took out a gun and shot Perez dead.

Management says there were about 40 people inside the restaurant at the time of the shooting.

Jones, they say, then started firing his gun in different directions.

An unnamed customer with a concealed handgun license then took out his gun and shot at Jones several times, killing him, said Cook. Garcia described that customer as a regular who comes to the restaurant twice a week with his wife.

The medical examiner discovered Jones was also armed with a second loaded gun and two knives.

"With the amount of handguns that he had, the additional knives he had, depending on the motive he had, he could have harmed a lot more people. We could have had a lot of people killed in this business (without) the quick action and decisiveness of this concealed handgun holder," said Cook.

Police confirm to NBC 5 that Jones's second gun's serial number was scratched off. This could indicate the gun was stolen, said Cook.

The sports bar's management and police say the armed customer likely saved countless lives.

"We are so thankful for him," said manager Lucia Garcia. "He comes in with his wife at least a couple times a week, and we really have no words for him. Just the utter 'thank you' that we feel toward him."

According to Cook, Zona Caliente is a "Blue Sign Business," where if you are a licensed gun owner in Texas you are able to legally carry inside.

A motive has not been confirmed, according to police.

Detectives are running toxicology tests, and they are looking into whether Jones had documented mental health issues prior to the shooting.

A candlelight vigil is being held outside the sports bar on South Cooper Street in Arlington at 7 p.m. tonight. Those attending were asked to wear white.

Perez worked at Zona Caliente in Arlington for about eight months. He leaves behind a wife, four children and a grandson on the way.

NBC 5's Noelle Walker contributed to this report.

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