Man shot in Liberty, Pa. throughout baby custody trade, police say

LIBERTY, Pa. (WETM) — Police have released more details on the arrest of two people involved in the fatal shooting in Tioga County, Pa. over the weekend, saying the man from Buffalo was shot during a custody exchange of his two-year-old child.

Leonardo Pagan Acevedo, 33, of Bethlehem, Pa., and Denissa Alvarez-Matias, 32, of York Pa. were arrested today, August 29, 2022, after an investigation conducted by PSP. According to the criminal complaint filed against Alvarez-Matias, she was the estranged wife of the victim, 31-year-old Jesus Iran Alicia-Santiago from Buffalo.

The affidavit said that Alicia-Santiago’s family told police he would often travel to Pennsylvania to exchange custody of his and Alvarez-Matias’ two-year-old child. The custody exchange on August 26 specifically took place at the Dollar General on Route 414 off SR 15, and the two-year-old child was seen on video getting into the red sedan driven by Alvarez-Matias.

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L: Denissa Alvarez-Matias, R: Leonardo Pagan Acevedo/Mugshots: Tioga County Prison

According to the complaint filed against Pagan Acevedo, Alvarez-Matias dropped off Pagan Acevedo at the Landing Strip Restaurant down the street to wait while she picked up the child at the Dollar General. The affidavit said Alicia-Santiago followed her back to the Landing Strip after the exchange and confronted her and Pagan Acevedo.

The affidavit said that police responded to a call about an altercation between two men around 3:00 pm on the 26th, when witnesses said Pagan Acevedo got out of the passenger side of the red sedan and shot Alicia-Santiago once or twice in his black Ford Explorer. Alvarez-Matias was reportedly driving the red sedan, and both vehicles then drove away.

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Alicia-Santiago then drove to the nearby Exxon station with gunshot wounds to his right abdomen and lower back. He was unconscious when police arrived, and officers and EMS attempted CPR. However, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police talked to Alicia-Santiago’s family from Buffalo, who said that Alvarez-Matias was upset with him because of his new relationship. Police also said Alvarez-Matias and Pagan Acevedo were in a relationship.

Police also interviewed other family members, who said that Alvarez-Matias first denied being involved in the shooting, but later admitted to being present and then leaving the scene when Pagan Acevedo “shot the first shot through the floor of the car”, according to the affidavit.

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The criminal complaints said that Pagan Acevedo and Alvarez-Matias face the following charges

Leonardo Pagan Acevedo, 33

  • Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Homicide
  • Criminal Homicide
  • Aggravated Assault—Attempts to Cause Serious Bodily Injury
  • Aggravated Assault – Attempts to Cause Bodily Injury with Deadly Weapon
  • Firearms Not to Be Carried without License
  • Possession of Instrument of Crime with Intent
  • Propel Missile Into Occupied Vehicle
  • Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Denissa Alvarez-Matias, 32

  • Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Homicide
  • Endangering the Welfare of a Child
  • Hindering Apprehension/Prosecution

PSP said that the shooting appears to be an isolated event and that there is no current threat to the community.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. If anyone has any information about the shooting they are asked to contact PSP Mansfield at 570-662-2151, and reference incident number PA2022-1090493.

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