The multi-vehicle car crash outside his home in St. Paul, Minnesota, about 10 p.m. Monday led Javier Sanmiguel to join neighbors in rushing out to the street to see how they could help.
But as Sanmiguel, along with others, opened the rear hatchback of a Ford Escape involved in the crash, fearing the vehicle’s driver — who had climbed into that spot — might be hurt, the Good Samaritan was allegedly met by a gun blast.
Sanmiguel, a 31-year-old married father of four, was hit in the head and pronounced dead at the scene, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The driver, 27-year-old Lionel Eaton, “has no history of violent behavior, he was cooperative with police, and he informed police that he acted out of fear for his own safety,” his attorney, Mark Kelly, said in a written statement to PEOPLE.
Eaton has since been charged with one count each of second- and third-degree murder, according to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. He has not yet entered a plea, according to Kelly’s office.
Eaton’s mother, concerned that her son had said someone was trying to kill him and was acting “paranoid and erratic,” was trying to learn his location and direct him to a hospital over the phone at the time of the accident when the phone went silent, according to the criminal complaint cited by the Pioneer Press.
Eaton allegedly told police he hit his head when his vehicle was rammed by another car, and he then hid in his vehicle because he thought he heard gunshots, according to the complaint.
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He said he did not own a gun, but had one that allegedly had been given to him by someone earlier that night. Police said a Smith & Wesson handgun was found in “plain sight” on the driver’s seat of Eaton’s vehicle, with multiple casings in the vehicle’s rear cargo area, according to the complaint.
Eaton is being held on a $1 million bail at the Ramsey County jail, jail records show. His formal arraignment is set for October 4.
Sanmiguel leaves “his loving wife, Kayla, and four beautiful children, Javier, Emilia, Isabel and Petra,” according to a GoFundMe page seeking donations to assist his family. “Javier was a loving, upstanding and faithful man for his God, family, and community.”