Dallas teen's death should send a message, neighbor says




Posted on April 9, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Intruder killed

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DALLAS — On Monday evening, there was a steady stream of people in and out of the southeast Dallas home where 14-year-old Luis Avila lived with his family. No one could understand how he ended up where he ended up on Monday morning.

Luis should have been in a seventh grade classroom at 11 a.m., but he and two friends had apparently skipped school.

They ended up at a home in the 7300 block of Vallejo Drive. Police said the three teens rang the doorbell at the home of 51-year-old Lee Cobler. Cobler and his 25-year-old son were home, but did not answer the door.

The men called 911 as the boys allegedly kicked in the back door of the residence.

Cobler was armed. He fired his gun at the teens, and Luis Avila was killed.

The other young suspects ran from the scene, but were captured nearby.

Police say Cobler's actions will be reviewed by a grand jury, but it appears he acted in self-defense.

Shirley Stark of the Piedmont Scyene Homeowners' Association said Cobler is an active member of the group who regularly patrolled the streets. She said the neighborhood had been experiencing an increase in crime recently, and she believes it is associated with nearby Hood Middle School.

"I'm hoping this is a message to young people that this could happen to any of them," she said. "They need to stop breaking into houses."

"I'm also hoping it is a message to the school board and the principal to keep the kids in school," Stark added. "Last week I called 911 because we had an incident with kids fighting in my front yard. Every week we have kids roaming the streets with backpacks during school hours. We know they're going to break in, and it's a matter of time before they break in our house, too."

Dallas ISD does have truancy officers patrolling the Hood campus and the surrounding neighborhood daily. Hood is the district's second-largest middle school campus with more than 1,400 students.

The two teenagers taken into custody are being charged with burglary. Police said they found no weapons on the boys, investigators were not sure if they were armed when they were attempting to get inside Cobler's home.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com