Felicia Torres called Roel Devora the love of her life. The pair met when they were middle schoolers, and although for nearly a decade they went their separate ways, they never lost contact.
Torres had just ended an abusive relationship when she and Devora reconnected again last year, she said. The pair had been discussing plans to try again together, knowing through all the years that they were each other's first loves. That was until Devora, 27, was shot by an ex-boyfriend of Torres' the morning of April 10 inside her apartment, she said.
Torres was able to take Devora to an emergency room, but alleges that after medical staff said he would need to be transported to John Peter Smith Hospital for surgery, he was questioned by Fort Worth police for almost an hour. About 15 minutes after he was finally cleared for transport, he succumbed to his injuries after arriving at JPS, Torres said, adding that she plans to help Devora's family file a wrongful death lawsuit following funeral arrangements that are set for April 26.
The pair and Torres' two daughters had just gotten back from Disney on Ice at Dickies Arena. It was the first time the two girls, 3, and 4, had met Devora, and similar to their mom, they were in love already.
"They usually go to sleep around 10 o'clock, and I let them stay up until 12:30 that night. They were fighting over him. They didn't want to go to sleep," Torres said. "[My daughters] don't immediately connect with people. ... So the fact that they were so quick to bond with him, within a few hours, that's kind of what hurt me the most because you know they don't open up to people and that day they did. They were having so much fun."
Torres had just put her children to sleep and the couple was talking in the living room and making plans for the future.
"That night we had a conversation and he was like, 'You know, you've been my baby for 15 years.' He was talking about how he wanted to get his journeyman's license," Torres said. "I do lip fillers and body sculpting, and he wanted to invest in my business, and then use that money to invest in his business, and start a savings account payable to our kids. So you know, we had a pretty long talk that night."
It was 1 a.m. when she heard her front door knob jiggle. From outside, Torres said, they heard shouts to open the door. The lights in the outdoor hallway had been out for some time, making it impossible to see who it was, but Torres recognized the voice of her ex-boyfriend.
"I told Roel, 'I don't want to open the door,' and Roel was like, 'Either you're going to open the door, or I'm going to open the door.' … The door was going to be opened regardless," Torres said. "[My ex] didn't say anything. … He said, 'What's up? [followed by a string of expletives]' and he just shot. He didn't take the time to say, 'Who is this? What are you doing?' Nothing. He literally shot as soon as the door opened."
Devora was shot three times, with two gunshot wounds to the chest and one to his side, Torres said, adding that the 27-year-old refused to hide in another room in the apartment in fear that her ex would search for him in the direction of the rooms her two daughters were sleeping in.
Her ex fled the scene, Torres said, and she was left to try and save Devora's life. She said she called 911, but never got through to a dispatcher.
A Star-Telegram request for the 911 call log was made to the police department. The request is still pending.
Torres hung up, and was called back over four minutes later, she said. By then, she already had her children and was driving Devora in her car to Baylor Scott & White Emergency Hospital - Burleson, at 12500 South Freeway, which she said was less than five minutes away from her apartment in the 300 block of Kenchester Way.
Torres got Devora to the hospital at 1:12 a.m., and he remained there for about an hour, she said.
At Baylor, the staff "called EMS and said that he needed to be transported to JPS," Torres said. "Gang Unit questioned him and they were questioning him while he was like bleeding out, while he was in the back. … They were trying to stabilize him for transport and he was still being questioned."
At 2:05 a.m., a nurse told Torres that Devora was still conscious, asking about his daughter.
"Then at 2:20 they pronounced him dead when he had arrived at JPS," Torres said. "So, from 1:12 up until 2:05 they kept him at Baylor hospital. He was not immediately transported to JPS, where they said that he would be treated. … But you know, immediately, if I would have known that he would have been alive for the next hour, I would have just taken him to JPS myself."
Torres said that she told responding police officers that the incident was not gang related but domestic, and that she was a witness to the shooting and knew who the shooter was, but she was ignored because police wanted to conduct their own interview.
Police arrested Torres' ex-boyfriend almost two weeks after the shooting.
When told of Torres' account, and asked if the police department had any comment regarding her allegations that Devora was questioned by police rather than prioritized for his life-threatening injuries, Fort Worth police deferred comment about questioning procedures to the hospital.
"The Fort Worth Police Department cannot make any statement about the actions and decisions of the hospital; those would need to come from them," a spokesperson from the department said.
A public records request for the police body-camera footage was in the process of review after being filed April 14.
Baylor Scott & White Emergency Hospital declined to comment on whether police questioning during stabilization of a patient was a standard practice.
"As always, our priority is the health and well-being of those we serve. Due to patient privacy laws, we are unable to speak to any individual case," a Baylor spokesperson said in an email.
Torres said the police questioning occurred while Baylor staff were trying to stabilize Devora, which she believes delayed the transfer to JPS. Devora's family is waiting for the hospital to email his medical records, she said.
As she waited, Torres said, her frustration continued to grow.
"It just seems very, very negligent," Torres said. "It's to the point that I'm even reaching out to an attorney to try to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Baylor because you know, I've worked in health care and I know they shouldn't have allowed him to be questioned while … trying to get him ready for transport. They should not have had the Gang Unit officers questioning him."
Torres explained that she was in school to become a medical assistant in 2016. She later worked as a hospital patient access representative, a front desk representative for a plastic surgery office, a procedure scheduler and now works for Medicare, she said.
"They said he had two gunshot wounds to the chest and one to his side. And I mean, if you know that, and the doctors are telling you that, why are you sitting there questioning him? Why is he not being rushed to JPS?" she added.
Kathryne Young, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said police questioning during a life-threatening situation with a gunshot victim isn't normal, and that based on Torres' account, Devora should've been given the opportunity to receive medical treatment, if he was in custody, or refuse to speak with law enforcement if he wasn't.
"I've heard of police questioning when there's exigent circumstances, like when someone's been shot, but they also know where a dangerous weapon is hidden or something, ... where it's the person's health versus the circumstance of 'This is urgent, you have to question now'," Young said. "The thing that's perplexing to me about this is, it doesn't sound like [the police questioning] was urgent."
Ayesha Bell Hardaway, the co-director at the Social Justice Institute and an assistant law professor at Case Western Reserve University, agreed with Young's comments, calling Torres' claims an illustration of "complete disregard ... of the sanctity of human life."
"The first thing, you know, I would expect is that there would be an order that requires police officers to prioritize medical care, in furtherance of the mission to value the sanctity of life," Hardaway said.
Torres' ex-boyfriend, Jose Antonio Segura, 32, of Fort Worth, was arrested Friday night on suspicion of murder in Devora's death.
Segura was found in front of a residence in the 4700 block of Alandale Drive, and when police tried to arrest him, he got into a black BMW and tried to flee, "ramming into two Fort Worth Police Department Fugitive vehicles in the process," a police report said.
Segura led police in a nine-mile chase and got out of his car and ran before officers caught him, according to the report.
Segura faces charges of murder, unlawful possession of a firearm, household family assault with previous convictions, tampering with physical evidence with the intent to impair, and evading arrest, according to court records.
After Segura's arrest, Torres explained he's battled an alcohol addiction, which she thinks contributed to his behavior.
"[Both Devora and Segura] lost their lives and though I feel pain for Roel passing away, I feel sympathy for Jose because I know deep down he is just lost in that addiction," Torres said in a text message Saturday. "I remain humble enough to forgive his mistakes, but I will never forget them."
Losing the love of her life
Torres and Devora met at Meadowbrook Middle School. They started dating on Oct. 10, 2007, Torres laughed, remembering the exact date.
"He was my first love. I was his first love, no matter what. No matter where life took us, we always ended up trying again," Torres said. "I can honestly say he was definitely the love of my life, to be honest."
He was something special, Torres said, crying.
"He had this really big smile that even when you are mad at him, you couldn't be mad at him because he would make a random just off-the-wall joke to where you would just be like, 'What, like, where did that even come from?'" she said, with a laugh and a sniffle. "He just had this thing about him, that no matter what he was going through, if he knew you were going through something, he would brighten up your day. … Roel was a very strong-hearted person, but with me … I was just his weak point. I was literally the love of his life, too."
Devora's blood is still on Torres' couch and carpet. She couldn't get it out, she said.
For days after the shooting, she couldn't sleep. She still hears his voice. Her daughters have been asking if her friend is OK, and when they're going to get him from the doctor.
She finally was able to pull herself out of bed a few days after the shooting after missing work.
"I couldn't get myself to function. I couldn't get myself to eat. To the point that I told my manager, I was like, 'I need to use a bereavement because I can't function'," Torres said.
She's tried to rearrange her apartment, trying to cover the blood stains. She says it's her turn to be strong right now.
"I have to be strong for my kids. And that's one of the things that you know that Roel admired about me is that I lost my mom when I was 14 and I was able to pull through it. So that's what I have to do at this point," Torres said. "I just have to, you know, pick myself up because I'm assisting with making the shirts for the funeral. I'm assisting with making plates to sell to help the family. The family, pretty much right now, is still in shock. So, I'm organizing everything. … I have to, in a sense, be the one that has to be strong for everybody at this point."
Torres organized a GoFundMe to help Devora's family with funeral costs. She said it'll be her time to mourn when the funeral comes.
"[Then] I can say my goodbyes," Torres said. "I'm putting my feelings aside right now to help [his family] with everything, and eventually, maybe my kids will go to a babysitter, or my brother will take them for a few hours, and then I'll finally be able to process things."