Hearing his 5-year-old daughter crying from behind a barn, a father ran and discovered the unthinkable: A man molesting her. The father pulled the man off his daughter, authorities say, and started pummeling him to death with his fists.
With his daughter finally safe, the father frantically called 911, begging a dispatcher to find his rural ranch and send an ambulance.
"Come on! This guy is going to die on me!" the man is heard screaming on the recording, which authorities played during a news conference Tuesday where they announced that the father would not face charges. "I don't know what to do!"
In declining to indict the father, 23, in the June 9 killing of Jesus Mora Flores, a Lavaca County grand jury reached the same conclusion as investigators and many of the father's neighbors: He was authorized to use deadly force to protect his daughter.
"It's sad a man had to die," said Michael James Veit, 48, who lives across the street from where the attack happened in this small community run on ranching and the Shiner beer brewery. "But I think anybody would have done that."
The family ranch is so remote that on the 911 tape, the father is heard profanely screaming at a dispatcher who couldn't locate the property. At one point, he tells the dispatcher he's going to put the man in his truck and drive him to a hospital.
"He's going to die!" the father screams, swearing at the dispatcher.
The tense, nearly five-minute call begins with the father saying he "beat up" a man found raping his daughter. The father grows increasingly frazzled, shouting into the phone so loudly at times that the call often becomes inaudible. The Associated Press is not identifying the father in order to protect the daughter's identity.
"He's a peaceable soul," V'Anne Huser, the father's attorney, told reporters at the Lavaca County Courthouse. "He had no intention to kill anybody that day."
The attack happened on the family's ranch off a quiet, two-lane county road between the farming towns of Shiner and Yoakum. Authorities say a witness who saw Flores "forcibly carrying" the girl into a secluded area scrambled to find the father. Running toward his daughter's screams, the father pulled Flores off his child and "inflicted several blows to the man's head and neck area," investigators said.
Emergency crews responding to the father's 911 call found Flores' pants and underwear pulled down on his lifeless body. The girl was examined at a hospital, and authorities say forensic evidence and witness accounts corroborated the father's story that his daughter was being sexually molested.
The father was never arrested, but the killing was investigated as a homicide.
Authorities said the family had hired Flores to help with horses on the ranch. He was not born in the United States, but was here legally with a green card.
Huser, the father's attorney, told reporters that neither the father nor anyone else in the family would ever give interviews and asked that they be left alone.
At Werner's Restaurant, customer Gail Allen said she didn't want to speak for the whole town, though her comments echoed what others said.
"The father has gone through enough," said Allen, 59, who has nine grandchildren. "The little girl is going to be traumatized for life, and the father, too, for what happened. He was protecting his family. Any parent would do that."