Parlier man accused of killing neighbor in alleged dispute over kids throwing trash over fence


Arthur Gomez was killed on Friday by his neighbor, according to authorities. The neighbor, Joel Valera, is currently in the Fresno County Jail facing murder charges.

"I'm still in shock. The whole neighborhood is just still in shock for what happened," said Antoinette Hill, a neighbor.

Hill says most everyone who knew Gomez loved him. A well-known local youth football coach, he and his family had lived in this house for nearly 20 years.

The man accused of killing him, Joel Valera, was a newcomer -- here just three months. Neighbors say they rarely even saw him, or the woman who lived with him. Hill did not see the shooting, but heard what led up to it.

"I guess there was a dispute over trash being thrown in his yard, and Artie had said, 'My kids didn't do that,' and kind of made a comment, like, 'What are you gonna do about it? It's not true,' and the guy said, 'Well this is what I'm going to do about it' and came back and shot him," Hill told ABC30.

Another neighbor who saw the shooting told Action News that Valera came out of the house with a gun in his hand, walked up to Gomez who was standing in his front yard, shot him once in the chest, and walked calmly back into his house.

Members of Gomez's family, including some of his teenage children, also witnessed the shooting. Sheriff's detectives are still piecing together what happened. Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Curtice says detectives heard from several witnesses, and believe one of the 911 calls came from Valera.

"It sounded like it was a pretty minor disagreement prior to the shooting, but like I said I believe we had several calls that came in regarding the shooting at the time, I believe that one of the calls possibly was even made by the suspect," said Curtice.

While Valera is in custody, the Parlier community is grieving for the loss of Gomez and the suffering of his family.

"Just a great family. It's just really sad to see what happened to him and his family; the whole town is just mourning," said Hill.

Funeral arrangements for Arthur Gomez are being made, and a car wash and fundraisers are planned for this coming Saturday at Parlier High School.

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