Family of man killed at apartments wants justice, says suspect should’ve been evicted sooner

Lawyers hired by the family of a maintenance man who was shot to death at a Fort Worth apartment building said they think the resident accused of killing him should have been evicted months ago. The attorneys and the family of the victim, 30-year-old Carlos Aybar, held a news conference Wednesday.

“I want justice,” cried Aybar’s mother, Rachel Canelon, in Spanish in video of the news conference filmed by Star-Telegram partner WFAA-TV.

Aybar was a maintenance man at The Marq on West 7th apartments at 701 Arch Adams Lane in the Monticello neighborhood near Fort Worth’s Cultural District. He also lived at The Marq.

Fort Worth police responded to the shooting that killed him at around 5:40 p.m. Friday. A woman called 911 and reported that she was working in the front office of the apartment building and a man was arguing with her after being ordered to move out due to an animal control violation, according to a police report. The woman reported that an employee had been shot and told the dispatcher that she had locked herself in a restroom and the suspect was standing outside the door shooting.

The suspect, 29-year-old Devin Deron Smith, was arrested Friday night and as of Thursday afternoon was being held on $150,000 bond at the Tarrant County Jail, according to police and jail records. He is being represented by Fort Worth attorney Kobby Warren, who did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.

“His bail has been set at the ridiculous amount of $150,000, which means he only needs $15,000 to post bail,” said Aybar’s aunt, Rebeca Canelon-Diaz, at the family’s news conference.

“It’s my position that they should have started the eviction process months ago,” said James Trujillo, one of the attorneys representing Aybar’s family members.

Trujillo said the family is considering legal action because he’s found residents who had previously complained to the apartment’s management and police about Smith’s conduct and about his dog, WFAA reported.

“Mr. Smith chased one of the tenants with the pit bull, a young female,” Trujillo said, according to KXAS-TV. “He also allowed the pit bull to bite one of the leasing agents in the building.”

Aybar was described as “a devoted father, son, brother” by his family members in a GoFundMe they organized. He “died a hero protecting his coworker,” his family wrote.

The apartment building’s management sent a message to residents Tuesday regarding Aybar.

“Carlos was a beloved member of our team — his positive attitude, kindness, and work ethic made a lasting impression on everyone who had the pleasure of working alongside him, including our residents. He will be deeply missed,” apartment management wrote in the message. “We have implemented additional measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, residents, and guests. ... Armed foot patrol guards have been stationed at the property to monitor the premises around the clock.”

The company, CWS Apartments Homes, said in a a statement that, “Our team is cooperating fully with law enforcement agencies and, unfortunately, cannot comment further on the ongoing investigation.”

The apartment’s office, where the shooting occurred, will remain closed until further notice.

Fort Worth police released a statement on Monday with preliminary details of their investigation.

“Detectives found that the suspect came to the office of the apartment complex due to paperwork left on his door,” a police spokesperson said in the emailed statement. “A witness contacted the victim (Aybar) because the witness was afraid of the way the suspect (Smith) was acting towards the witness. The victim came into the office and was attempting to get the suspect to leave the office when the suspect shot the victim multiple times.”

Smith fled the office to his apartment and was detained by officers a short time later, police said. Homicide detectives prepared an arrest warrant and Smith was transported to jail after the warrant was signed.

Smith also now faces a charge of deadly conduct/discharging a firearm in an April 6 incident in downtown Fort Worth, according to a police report. Jail records indicate that charge was added on Thursday. The incident — apparently unrelated to the shooting of Aybar — occurred in the 400 block of Houston Street. A police spokesperson said that no one was injured in the Houston Street incident but did not release further details.

The Star-Telegram has requested records of any other complaints against Smith.