Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 | 9:35 p.m.
Like he was known to do multiple times a week, the devotee pulled up to his church for a predawn service when a single gunshot exploded in this central valley neighborhood.
This fateful day more than a year ago, Hector Antonio Lemus-Flores apparently stepped out of his green 1998 Isuzu Rodeo but never stepped inside his house of worship.
Lemus-Flores died at the hospital shortly after being found on Oct. 16, 2017, in the 2300 block of Cedar Avenue, near the La Luz Del Mundo church, which translates in English to the Light of the World.
Metro Police this week booked a suspect on a murder count, records show.
Detectives learned that Artavius Robinson, 20, told an associate that he’d pumped a bullet into the victim, whom he thought was carrying cocaine, according to his arrest report obtained Thursday.
In multiple police interviews, Robinson has denied his involvement in Lemus-Flores’ death.
Surrounding the aging SUV, police about 5:36 a.m. that morning found the mortally wounded man, his blood, and a lug wrench tool, which apparently came from inside the vehicle, according to the report.
Lemus-Flores was taken to University Medical Center where he died not long after arrival, police said.
The day after the shooting, Metro learned of a possible person of interest only known to them as “Tay” and later “Mississippi,” an alleged drug dealer, according to the report.
The next day, police received a description of someone seen running from the scene after a “pop” was heard.
Days later — after visiting a possible location where Robinson and his girlfriend were known to have stayed — detectives apparently spotted Robinson and snapped a blurry photo, according to the report.
But soon after the slaying, the suspect boarded a bus to Ohio, police learned. And they had nothing more than nicknames to go off of.
The case broke open in January.
Using a phone number connected to the suspect, detectives obtained records that revealed his identity: Artevius Robinson.
Then they learned Robinson was cited by the Ohio Highway Patrol.
In July, Robinson again was in the radar of Ohio authorities, police said. This time in connection with a “domestic-violence-type kidnapping.”
Metro the following month requested a DNA swab from Robinson, who was still locked up, police said. That test was conducted in September.
After his DNA had been collected, Robinson called another inmate, admitting to shooting a Hispanic man in Las Vegas, whom he’d suspected had been carrying cocaine.
Robinson told the person that the victim had reached back into his vehicle, so he had to pull the trigger.
“Investigators believe (redacted) statement to be accurate since some of the details provided by Robinson were only known to detectives or the perpetrator,” according to the report.
A second inmate told police Robinson had related some of the same details. Robinson was described as “extremely jittery and nervous” after the DNA swab, according to the report.
Robinson had allegedly said he’d approached the victim and pointed the gun at him from a distance of about 5 feet. When the victim reached behind his vehicle for a tool, Robinson got “scared” and fired a round.
“Robinson denied touching anything at the scene but was concerned about DNA since he had long dreads at the time,” according to the report.
He went home, bleached his clothes and told his girlfriend what happened, police said. In a matter of days, the couple went from California, back to Las Vegas, and then to Sandusky, Ohio.
“Robinson cut off his dreads to change his appearance,” the report said.
About 10 feet from the mortally wounded man, officers found his Bible on the ground, Lt. Dan McGrath said at the time. The church had no parking, so worshippers had to park along the street, where Lemus-Flores was.