Fort Carson Army sergeant killed by fellow soldier in shooting, police say
By OLIVIA PRENTZEL | The Gazette | Published: November 14, 2019
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — For days, Sgt. Alexis Sanchez talked about dressing up for Halloween as Spider-Man, the Marvel Comics hero his 2-year-old son, Grayson, adores, according to his ex-wife.
He never got the chance to surprise the boy.
Four days before Halloween, on Oct. 27, the Fort Carson soldier and native of Cuba was shot and killed at his Colorado Springs apartment by a fellow Fort Carson soldier who witnesses said was “messing with” a gun in another room when it went off.
Officers found Sanchez, 30, with a fatal gunshot wound in his chest Oct. 27 after responding to a shooting, according to a police affidavit.
Cpl. William Garcia, 22, — who, like Sanchez, is assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division — was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after witnesses told police he fired the fatal shot.
Sanchez was doing what he loved — playing video games — when he was killed, said his ex-wife, Alexis Tueller.
Sanchez will be buried in Miami this week, according to the Miami Herald. TV cameras recorded a plane carrying his remains landing at Miami International Airport Tuesday afternoon to a water cannon salute from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to honor the fallen soldier.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends affected by this tragedy,” said Col. Ike L. Sallee, commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “We value our people over all else, and I know the Raider Brigade joins me in offering our deepest sympathies.”
Sanchez and Garcia deployed to Afghanistan together, according to Miami Local 10 News.
Garcia told detectives the gun fired after he dropped it on the kitchen floor.
But Sanchez's friends and family are skeptical of Garcia’s account.
Part of the investigation, according to El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly, involves deciding whether the discharge of the weapon was caused by a complete disregard for others’ safety or was unintentional.
Tueller refused to called it an accident.
“It wasn’t an accident," she said. "An accident is falling down the stairs and getting stitches. Not killing someone.
“He was just a wonderful man and didn’t deserve it.”
Sanchez and Tueller moved from Arlington, Va., to Colorado Springs in August 2017 with their son, when Sanchez was stationed to Fort Carson, Tueller said.
After the couple got divorced, Tueller and Grayson moved to Utah in February 2018. Since then, Sanchez requested time off every opportunity he had to see his son.
“He made every effort to get over here to see him,” she said.
Tueller recalled the day her son was born and how proud Sanchez was to become a father.
“He was so excited to be a dad, so excited to take him to preschool, and so excited to teach him how to play sports,” she said. “He adored that little boy.”
She remembered Sanchez as a person “fluent in everything he talked about” and someone who often did extensive research on his interests, including guns.
He owned three guns and enjoyed learning how they worked, she said. That curiosity, she said, likely played a role in his decision to join the Army.
Sanchez rarely kept a straight face while taking photos and was “always acting goofy,” said friend Pedro Carrion, who was a pastor in Sanchez’s adopted hometown of Miami. Sanchez was a poet who loved art and music.
After becoming a Christian when he was about 20 years old, Sanchez quickly became very active in the church community, volunteering at the children’s ministry on the weekends and leading youth groups on Friday nights, he said.
Carrion said he was surprised when Sanchez, then a “skinny, lanky, emo kid,” decided to join the Army in 2014.
“However, Alex loved to serve others so it made sense that he would want to serve his country,” he said.
Garcia's attorney, Megan Downing, characterized the case as "the most tragic kind — an accident."
"Mr. Sanchez was Mr. Garcia’s friend," he said. "They served their country together. Mr. Garcia has spent his whole adult life protecting lives, especially those with whom he served. This is the last thing he ever expected to happen."
Garcia was released from El Paso County Jail on Oct. 28 on bail. His next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 18.
Information from the Miami Herald was used in this report.