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News of son’s shooting shocks family

By DAVID CLOUSTON Salina Journal

News of a 17-year-old’s shooting death Sunday evening in Sunset Park shocked the victim’s family.

Gailynn Rico received a telephone call moments after the 7:40 p.m. shooting relaying the news that her son, Derek Dean Rico, was lying shot in the park.

“I don’t know, we all kind of thought it was maybe just a stray bullet that hit him in the arm or leg or something,” Rico’s brother-in-law, Steven Helzer, said Monday.

“We weren’t expecting what we got, that’s for sure,” said Nickel Helzer, Rico’s sister and Steven Helzer’s wife.

The call came from Rico’s girlfriend, Kyan Woods. Rico, Woods and their 10-month-old baby had gone to the park to attend a friend’s birthday barbecue, Steven Helzer said.

Rico wouldn’t have taken Woods or the baby if he thought there might have been trouble brewing, the couple said.

Deputy Salina Police Chief Carson Mansfield said Rico was shot once with a medium-caliber handgun during an argument at Salina’s Sunset Park. He wouldn’t disclose what the argument was about.

Jose M. Garay, 28, was arrested Monday evening in Dodge City on a first degree murder charge. Salina police arrested Juan Pablo Ramos Jr., 18, 738 N. Second, after he turned himself in at the Salina Police Department Sunday night. He’s being charged with aiding a felon.

Gailynn Rico declined Monday to talk about her son or the shooting.

Music was his passion

The Helzers said Rico wasn’t employed but was looking for work to help support his new family. The Helzers said he lived with his mother, and that he and his girlfriend, Kyan Woods, had been dating since at least 2006.

Rico’s passion and ambition for the future lay in music, they said.

Rico wrote his own rap songs, and he and some friends built a recording studio at a buddy’s house. Rico liked to record his own music and enter open mic night competitions at the Blue Goat bar at 232 N. Santa Fe.

“He came pretty close to winning a couple of times,” Nickel Helzer said.

Court records

Saline County District Court records show that Rico, Ramos and Garay all were in trouble with the law at various times in their lives.

Ramos’ record also shows arrests as a juvenile going back as far as 2003. Most recently, he was present when his then 16-year-old brother, Cesar Ramos, repeatedly shot a Salina teen in a public park in March 2008. Cesar was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted second-degree murder and other charges. Juan pleaded guilty to aiding a felon and served nine months in a juvenile correctional facility.

Garay missed a court date Monday to schedule a preliminary hearing in a case in which he is accused of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and stalking, for allegedly violating a protective order against a woman.

Saving a girl

Rico’s record shows arrests going back to at least 2004 on charges that include assault, obstruction of the legal process and disorderly conduct.

However, two years ago he saved a young neighbor girl who was being mauled by a dog by grabbing a shovel and hitting the dog on the head. The dog, an American bulldog-boxer mix, also charged a police officer. The dog was ultimately subdued after it was shot with a shotgun and injected with a tranquilizer.

n Reporter David Clouston can be reached at 822-1403 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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