Worker Checking Frozen Pipes Shot by Apartment Resident Who Thought He Was a Burglar

The victim's son says his heart is filled with sadness but also forgiveness

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Grand Prairie police say an apartment resident shot a maintenance worker checking multiple balconies for frozen and busted waterlines on Christmas Eve.

It happened around 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 at an apartment complex in the 2900 block of Alouette Drive. When officers arrived they found a maintenance worker on a resident's balcony with an apparent gunshot wound.

The victim, 53-year-old Cesar Montelongo, was rushed to a local hospital where he later died.

"As far as we know my dad was just responding to work orders because at his apartment complex he was on call," said Cesar Montelongo Jr.

Cesar Montelongo’s son wants justice after his father was killed on Christmas Eve checking for leaking frozen pipes at a Grand Prairie apartment complex.

The resident, who believed his apartment was being burglarized, grabbed a gun and Montelongo through a window, according to police.

"All I know is that my dad was working on fixing leaking pipes and he was doing his work on the outside and being outside the window," said Montelongo Jr. "My dad wasn't trying to break in. He was just looking for leaking pipes."

“I saw him that afternoon,” said apartment complex resident Jose Dominguez.

Dominguez tells NBC 5 he has known Montelongo for about 30 years and noticed he was dressed up as if attending church service on Christmas Eve.

“I was surprised because he was here at work,” he said. “I asked him: What are you doing here? This is Christmas [Eve]. He told me, we have some problems we have to resolve and fix. That’s why I’m here and I told him: Well, that’s bad luck.”

Grand Prairie Police say several waterlines had ruptured in the frigid weather at around 6 p.m. Saturday. The longtime maintenance worker had been called in and was checking several balconies for more ruptures.

Montelongo's son said his dad was well-known among the residents.

"He was very humble, all of his residents knew him and he knew all of his residents," he said.

The resident remained at the scene and is cooperating with detectives. At this time, no arrest has been made.

"I want justice to be served. I forgive him. I hope the Lord forgives him. But justice is justice and fair is fair," said Montelongo Jr.

NBC 5 asked defense attorney and former prosecutor Russell Wilson for insight on possible legal questions that could be applied in this case.

Wilson is not associated with the case.

“[It’s] certainly a sad and tragic situation,” said Wilson. “One is, did the apartments notify the apartment owners that they were going to be having individuals on their balconies? And two, what’s the location of the pipes? Has this type of incident, the repair of the pipes, occurred before? And, has it always been done in that way?”

Wilson says the Castle Doctrine could be applied in the case. It allows homeowners to defend their property, which extends to their balconies, against ‘an anticipated burglary,’ said Wilson.

Homeowners are not required to retreat in their own homes, he said.

“For example, if somebody's home was about to be broken into, they're not necessarily required to let the person come into their home before they're defending themselves. Obviously, this is something that I think is unfolding very quickly and there's likely to be some scrutiny about other alternatives that might have been available,” said Wilson. “The biggest question is, the notice to the homeowner prior to the shooting incident, I think would play a very big role.”

Wilson believes detectives will likely investigate the tenant and whet

Grand Prairie detectives will refer the case to a Tarrant County Grand Jury for review.

Montelongo would have celebrated his 29th wedding anniversary on Christmas Day. He leaves behind a wife and five sons.

Montelongo’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral services. To help, click here.

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