Teen Suspect Arrested in Murder of Beloved California Teacher Found Dead in Home

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Authorities in Tulare County, California say a middle school teacher who was found dead in his home from gunshot wounds may have interrupted a burglary in progress, and they have a teenage suspect in custody.


Sergio Martin’s body was found during a welfare check around 3 a.m. Monday morning, and so far authorities have released few details beyond their announcement that a juvenile is being detained after an arrest.

In a statement, the department said information on the suspect would not be released “due to their age and to protect the integrity of the investigation, which is ongoing.”

But police do not believe the suspect was one of Martin’s students, according to Lt. Thaddeus Ashford. The preliminary investigation suggests that Martin may have interrupted a burglary and that there may be a second suspect involved, Ashford said.

For nearly two decades Martin had been a teacher with Cutler-Orosi Unified School District, teaching Spanish at El Monte Middle School in Orosi. In a statement Tuesday, district superintendent Yolanda Valdez said the community was in mourning and grief counselors were being made available to students and faculty.

Valdez described Martin as an “exceptional educator” and a “beacon of inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing and learning from him,” and his death is an absolute tragedy for the community, as well as yet another indictment of California’s plethora of gun control laws that do a much better job of keeping responsible citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right to armed self-defense than stopping prohibited persons from illegally accessing and using firearms to commit heinous crimes.


While there’ve been scores of reports on the increased number of retail thefts in places like San Francisco, residential burglaries are still far more common. According to CalDOJ statistics, there were more than 143,000 burglaries reported across the state last year, a rate of 367.5 break-ins for every 100,000 residents. Armed interventions on the part of homeowners are relatively rare, but they do happen. In fact, police in Vallejo, California say a homeowner acted in self-defense when they fatally shot an intruder who had broken through the front door of a home on Monday morning.

Obviously, we don’t know whether Martin would have been in a position to defend himself if he’d had a firearm on him when he was attacked, or even if the working theory that he interrupted a burglary is correct, but the state has given us plenty of evidence this week that armed citizens can and have protected their own lives thanks to exercising their Second Amendment rights. In addition to the burglar in Vallejo who was shot and killed by a homeowner, there’s also the Los Angeles man who fired at home invaders targeting him while he was opening the door to his house.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux has been an outspoken advocate for concealed carry for many years. Last month the sheriff ripped state legislators for erecting new barriers in front of those citizens trying to exercise their right to carry and declared that in the past twenty years, there’s not been a single criminal act committed by a concealed carry permittee in the county. We might not yet know if Martin was one of the 12,000 or so active permit-holders in Tulare County, but we can be certain that the teenage suspect accused of murdering him wasn’t legally armed… and none of the hundreds of gun laws on the books in California stopped him from illegally getting a firearm or using it to end the life of a beloved teacher and a good man.


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