Suspect in slaying of Gateway student tells his side to jury

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DURHAM, N.C. -- Homicide suspect Gabriel James Gamez said he thought he was about to be shot when he opened fire on a group of teenage football players in a Durham parking lot.

Mr. Gamez spoke on his own behalf Monday, concluding testimony and evidence presentation in the trial after six days. Attorneys' closing arguments are due to begin at 9:30 a.m. today.

Mr. Gamez, 24, is accused of first-degree murder in the June 23, 2011, death of Darrell Turner Jr., 18, a Monroeville high school football player, after an angry exchange.

He is also accused of attempted murder in the shooting of Turner's teammate, Thomas Woodson, then 16, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill four other members of the team.

"These false and vicious allegations must be addressed," said Mr. Gamez, who says he acted in self-defense.

On Monday, he testified that he drew his weapon, a 40-caliber Glock handgun, and began firing after one of the players gestured as if he were about to draw a handgun Mr. Gamez said he saw tucked into his waistband.

The only spent bullet casings found at the scene were from Mr. Gamez's handgun, according to earlier testimony.

The football players, from Gateway High School, were spending the night at a Durham hotel, en route to visit colleges and attend a camp in Florida.

Mr. Gamez, from San Antonio, said he was a security officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety and had come to Durham for a family funeral. He and his mother were staying at a hotel near the one where the players were.

On the witness stand Monday, he said he was walking to his hotel from the Outback Steakhouse when he encountered two groups walking in the opposite direction.

He described both groups as "loud" and "out of control," and said he moved away from them and ducked his head to avoid looking at them.

After the second group passed him, Mr. Gamez said he felt something hit the back of his head and heard laughter. He turned, saw the second group pointing at him and laughing, and saw a chunk of ice on the ground. When he asked who had thrown the ice and why, "the departed" (Turner) threw a cup at him, he said. There followed an exchange of name-calling and the group began advancing.

One from the group pulled up his shirt to reveal the butt of a gun, Mr. Gamez said. After hesitating, Mr. Gamez said, he pulled his own gun and began firing while running backward. He stopped firing when he saw the others running away, Mr. Gamez said, and did not see anyone appear injured.

Hours later, he was arrested.

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