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Florida Man Killed Defending Gay Friends From Shooter

Photo via GoFundMe/ Nancy Benitez

Juan Javier Cruz was fatally shot defending friends from an armed man who said, "I hate you damned gays."

Early Sunday in Lake Worth, Florida, a man was fatally shot defending his gay friends from a drunk and enraged armed man outside a restaurant.

Juan Javier Cruz, 22, had been dining with his gay cousin, Pedro Cruz, and several friends at Restaurante Y Pupuseria Las Flores. When the restaurant closed, the group went outside, where they were confronted by a man wielding a handgun, Nelson Hernandez-Mena, 48, who said, "I hate you damned gays. I'm going to kill you all here" and "If we were in my country, I'd kill all of you like rats," before firing several shots at the party.

According to CBS affiliate WPEC-TV, Juan reportedly pushed his cousin Pedro out of the way of fire, taking a bullet meant for him. Pedro was unharmed, while another member of their group was brought to the hospital with a non-life threatening injury.

Investigators reported that Hernandez-Mena had become enraged after one man in Cruz' group exchanged phone number with someone in Hernandez' own circle. He's now being held without bail at Palm Beach County Jail. He told police he'd had 15 to 20 beers that night prior to the shooting. Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated assault with a firearm.

Cruz's family has set up a GoFundMe page, which you can donate to here. They've raised $8,022 as of press time.

You can learn more by watching WPEC-TV's report, below:

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