Suspect in deadly Avondale Best Buy shooting dies at hospital

Posted at 7:47 AM, Mar 01, 2017

The suspect from a deadly shooting at a Best Buy in Avondale has died.

Avondale police said 27-year-old Henry Cota Jr. died from his injuries on Tuesday.

Police continue to investigate the double shooting at the Avondale shopping center that happened on Monday afternoon.

The call came out around noon on Monday at the Best Buy off Interstate 10, near 99th Avenue and McDowell Road.

According to the Avondale Police Department, upon arrival at the business, one man and one woman were found injured inside the store from gunshot wounds. Both individuals were taken to hospitals. 

The woman was pronounced dead by hospital personnel on Monday.

Best Buy told ABC15 the woman who was killed was a team member of the store. Later Tuesday afternoon, police identified her as 26-year-old Melissa Mendez.

Police say there was a history of domestic violence between Cota and Melissa. Court documents obtained by ABC15, show that on May 2015 Avondale Police responded to a call from Melissa saying that Cota was out front of her house waiting for her. Cota drove away when police arrived and later turned around and drove at the officer forcing him to get back into his car for his protection. In addition to this incident, Cota was later convicted of two other felonies.

The victim's family says they're having a difficult time coping with her death.

"It's a dream. It's not happening," said Gilbert Mendez, the victim's brother.

Cota and Mendez have two children together and in 2015, according to the Court records, "Cota and Mendez have reconciled and are attempting to co-parent their children together, there does appear to be instability in the home.”

Gilbert said it was especially difficult having to tell the Mendez's two kids.

"You think he might understand but he doesn't," Gilbert said. "How do you tell them their mom is never coming back?"

According to Gilbert, Melissa had moved on but Cota wasn't coping well without her.

The Best Buy remains closed but is expected to reopen Thursday at 10 a.m.

Melissa’s family said the company has been amazing in its support.

It's relieved a lot of stress off the family, financial burden.  It's helped tremendously and we're very thankful for everything everybody's done,” said Christina Hardyway, Melissa’s aunt.

They still need more help. There's a GoFundMe in Melissa's name that’s already up to $19,000 dollars. The money will go to support her children.

“I told [her son], ‘You can talk to mom any time you want. Come to me. You want to talk to mamma, we'll talk to mamma,”’ Gilbert said.

Best Buy released a statement to ABC15 which read: 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and children of Melissa Mendez after she was senselessly shot and killed on Monday. Domestic violence has no place in our society, and this tragic event is an example of how destructive it can be. Melissa, an employee at our Avondale store for more than seven years, was well-liked by her colleagues and great at her job. Counseling has been made available for our employees. Our Avondale store remains closed at this time."