Wednesday, July 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 05-01-2024 00:46

Slaying in Santa Teresita: Youth stabbed to death by seaside gang

Coastal resort of Santa Teresita rocked as 18-year-old Tomás Valentín Tello Ferreyra is stabbed to death by seaside gang; Ten arrests as police investigate shocking murder.

Angry protests erupted in the Atlantic resort of Santa Teresita this week after an 18-year-old youth was murdered senselessly at the turn of the year.

A total of 10 arrests had been made at press time for the killing, which happened in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Two of the suspects are minors, police said. 

The victim was identified as 18-year-old Tomás Valentín Tello Ferreyra, who was stabbed in the chest at a short distance from the beach where he had been celebrating the arrival of 2024 with a group of friends.

This brutal seaside attack came less than a year after the conviction of the killers of Fernando Báez Sosa in Villa Gesell in the summer of 2020.History thus repeated itself with a gang attack on a teenager while with a group of friends in the small hours at a beach resort. 

In this case the gang chasing and cornering Tello before stabbing him in the chest reportedly numbered nine, as opposed to the eight rugby players bashing Báez Sosa to death in Villa Gesell four years ago.

Police sources explained that one of the gang aged 21 had been singled out as the main suspect for the slaying but that they were still trying to unravel the confused situation leading to the crime which has been defined as “aggravated homicide.”
The sequence of events began when the Santa Teresita police responded to a call that a fight was underway. When the patrol car arrived, the youth already had a chest wound. Although rushed to the local hospital, the doctors could not save him.

In view of the gravity of the crime, the police carried out a dragnet, including an examination of all public and private security cameras.

On that basis the attack was started by “the 21-year-old, who is a local resident of  Santa Teresita, three other subjects aged between 27 and 29, and a Uruguayan aged 57."


Tomás Valentín Tello Ferreyra.
Tomás Valentín Tello Ferreyra.


The autopsy, carried out that same afternoon, confirmed that Tomás Tello died as the result of a stab in the chest. The murder weapon may have been a pair of scissors although that detail could not be confirmed.

Tello lived in Mar del Tuyú, just five kilometres down the coast from Santa Teresita. His friends and family described him as a hard-working youth who laboured 13 hours a day as a construction worker after dropping out of school. 

Public reactions soon made themselves felt. A group of demonstrators gathered outside  Santa Teresita police precinct on Monday afternoon clamouring for justice. 

The march started peacefully enough but ended with stones and bottles being thrown on one side with a police response of rubber bullets on the other. The situation was quickly brought under control but flared up again an hour later before a fresh volley of rubber bullets dispersed the demonstrators.

While the nine gang members were quickly picked up, the 10th suspect, Diego Cejas, has denied any participation, insisting on the contrary that he was a friend of the victim. 

Cejas was arrested on Tuesday night, nearly 40 hours after the crime, after being identified by a witness. His denial was backed up by a friend called Nahuel, who further testified that Tomás Tello had been stabbed by one Roberto Ochoa, and not Damián Kopelian, 21, as indicated by the case file.

But Nahuel then refused to testify to the prosecutor Pablo Gamaler, thus complicating his legal situation. Lawyer Adrián Rodríguez representing the victim’s family told Noticias Argentinas news agency that Nahuel had already been indicted, due to his "selective memory."

Kopelian’s situation is complicated by the images of security cameras and the testimony of witnesses. His father Avedis Kopelian, 57, is also a suspected gang member.

 The defendants also include two adolescents aged 16 and 17. After both initially refused to testify, one of them eventually gave a version seeking to exonerate himself. Both the underaged defendants will be facing an identity parade as from next Monday.


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