Manhunt continues for man suspected of murder

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By Lisa King

Joe Mena is buried, but there are few leads on the man police believe shot him. A family has laid a loved one to rest, but the search for his killer is far from over.

As 17-year-old Joel Mena was being buried Tuesday in Shelbyville, police continued a diligent search for the man who they believe fired the shot that killed him.

Mena died Wednesday night on the sidewalk where he fell after being fatally wounded. Police say he managed to stagger several feet before collapsing.

After the shooting, Soloman Caballero Gomez, 22, fled the scene and has not been seen since, at least not by police.

The manhunt for Gomez, who was previously thought to be named Santiago Cabellero, intensified after a murder warrant was issued on Friday, but police still have not found him.

They are asking for the public's help in locating Gomez, and they now are offering a description of him.

He is described as being 5 feet, 7 inches tall, with black hair and brown eyes and weighing about 155 pounds. Police could provide no description of his clothing.

Gomez is from Chiapas, Mexico's southern most state, which is only about 15 miles from the Guatemalan border. Detectives believe he no longer is in this area, but they can't speculate on whether he has gone back to Mexico.

Police interrogated Gomez’s wife, Sarah, after the shooting and said that Gomez was using her pickup truck when the shooting took place and that the weapon involved belonged to her.

However, Gomez did not flee in that vehicle, police say. Sarah Gomez has not been charged with any crimes.

Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said last week that police thought the murder weapon was a 9-millimeter hand gun, because there was a casing from such a weapon found at the murder scene.

The shooting took place near the intersection of 9th and College streets at about 8 p.m. Wednesday. Mena was taken to Jewish Hospital Shelbyville, where he was pronounced dead.

It is not known if the shooter and the victim had been involved in a prior altercation or if they have criminal records. Mena’s  records are sealed since he was a juvenile. Gomez has not been incarcerated in Shelby County before, jail officials said.

Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon for Mena at Shannon's Funeral Home in Shelbyville.

Mena's family has placed collection jars in stores around town to help defray the cost of funeral expenses. Anyone who wishes to do so may also bring donations to Shannon's Funeral Home on Main Street.

Family friend Doris Cox said the family has been comforted by the kindness of the community.

“Everyone has been so kind, and the family is very appreciative of that,” she said. “Everyone who has brought food or done something to help out—it has just meant so much.”

Anyone with information related to this crime is asked to call Shelbyville Police at 633-2326, Shelby County Dispatch at 633-2323 or Shelbyville/Shelby County Crime Stoppers at 633-4500. Anyone calling the Crime Stoppers line can remain anonymous.