This is a true story, based on actual events in Manatee County Florida.

Update: A year later, Avalos is facing another Murder charge for attempting to kill an inmate in prison.

Imagine you are at a dinner party. You are at your friends house but you only know a few of the more than thirty people that fill the room. Look to your right, now to your left. Three days from now, one of these faces is going to kill three people. Who will it be? Could it be you? Could it be me?

It’s like a scene out of a movie, something you’d never expect to experience in real life. You never image you’ll get a call telling you to turn on the news because one of the guys you were at dinner with a few nights before is accused of going on a murderous rampage.

It is not something you think about while sitting at dinner with friends and great food enjoying the camaraderie of a family birthday celebration. But this particular party would quickly be overshadowed by the actions of one young man.

He wasn’t a murderer at the time, but a few days later Andres Avalos Jr. would murder his wife, a neighbor, and the pastor of a local church they attended.

He left his 6 children without a mother, 2 more wthout a father, a church without their pastor, friends without friends and family without family. And after confessing, he will probably spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Andres-Avalos-Jr-with tattoo

Image credit – Bradenton Herald –

At one point, he was trying to convince me that Mexican hip hop was better than American hip hop, but that argument was settled quickly as the crowd decided that the music coming from another friends phone was more worthy of being plugged into the small set of speakers that were sitting on the countertop in front of him.

He had a tattoo on his neck, coming up from underneath his shirt, something that looked like a cross with a name on it, but hey, lots of people have tattoos.

I never got a warm and fuzzy feeling while talking to Andres but I didn’t get a bad vibe from him either. He was just another guy in the room.

I could tell he was street savvy because of the way he talked and carried himself but I have a varied past myself so I try not to judge anyone based on first appearance.

Most of the nights conversations were centered around the home made Thai food that was being prepared in the kitchen and outside on the grill. It was delicious and there seemed to be so much love in the room.

I guess that’s what makes this all so hard to take in, what makes it all so difficult to comprehend. How can the same guy, who sat there talking to me about lettuce wraps and bad beer, be the same guy who just ripped the lives of three families to shreds?

I don’t know the guy other than the few hours we spent hanging out that night so I am not going to assume to know what was going through his head, but if you ask me it was not murder. Not that night, not in that moment.

So what causes a person to snap like that? What causes someone to gun down three people in cold blood? Could anyone else in that room have snapped like he did or was it his destiny to be a murderer? Was there something in the stars that said it was his time to go, or was this simply the hand of someone’s god?

Does that mean that I am capable of murder? Does this mean that we are all one missed step away from fatally falling apart?

How is it that we can seem so normal on the surface but be falling apart inside? Why are humans so good at hiding their pain? How come we wait until it’s too late before we let someone know that we are about to blow?

There have been no reports on a motive, but what motive can there be for a crime so heinous other than self hate? And if you have so much hate that you are willing to kill, then why not kill yourself instead? Why not end your own pain as opposed to spreading it like a plague by killing those you love?

I’m not one to advocate for suicide, but if it means saving the lives of innocent people, at the expense of assholes who can’t express anger, other than through the barrel of a gun, then I say go ahead and blow your fucking brains out.

Because no one’s life should ever be cut short by the actions of another man. That’s the one gift that no one should ever want to give. We have no ability to create life and should therefore think twice about taking it. Shit, you should think three, four, five or even more times about doing something so stupid. And once you think you’ve thought it through, then write about it and think about it some more. Tell a friend about it. Do something to get it out in the open and please, give someone a chance to stop you before it’s too late.

You might just learn to understand and love the dark parts of your soul. And you might just save someone’s life in the process. Maybe even your own!

By the way, this is a real story, and you can help support the families of those involved by clicking the link below and donating to their GoFundMe campaign.


16 replies
  1. Bill
    Bill says:

    I knew Denise Potter some time ago through a mutual friend. She is the neighbor with 2 children who was murdered along with his wife and the pastor. Without going into details, Denise had some past troubles with drugs but I do not know if she moved on or was still having problems.

    The over zealousness of his wives murder—, hanging, beating and shooting—-leads to speculation of rage from jealously about his wife and the pastor. Though motives have not been discussed at all in the press, this one seems to jump out as a primary frontrunner? Booze and drugs certainly sound like enabling factors but something lit the match.

    If anyone has updates on motive or details not public I would be curious to hear about it.

    Very sad for the 8 children, all left without parents .

  2. Grace
    Grace says:

    I’ve read the article a few times and all of the comments . . .

    What comes to my mind each time is the thought that it could have been any of us.

    And we will say, “Not me!” “I do do drugs!” “I would never!” “He’s _____!” Yada-yada, blah, blah, bullshit. But the truth is . .

    It could have been me.

    It could have been you.

    Because humanity is NOT loving and nurturing. It’s raw, real, violent, selfish, and it doesn’t have to make sense to us.

    • Raymmar Tirado
      Raymmar Tirado says:

      That was the point of my article. To question why these things happen. Sure drugs may have been involved but there is almost always something more that drives someone to an action like this.

      Interesting to see the people react though. To this story and to the others in the local media. Even the ones which misquote and misconstrue the facts.

      • Grace
        Grace says:

        Any attention will bring attetion to this article. That is more eyes on this article the offers an opportuity to help the families of the victims. Take comfort in that.

        Your heart can be seen regardless.

  3. Creole
    Creole says:

    Although unimaginable and deeply tragic, I believe that this could happen to anyone, I will explain.

    They say some 80% of people in prison can be diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and the remaining undiagnosed of other disorders such as Bipolar etc. Just read the DSM 5 to realize that there are enough disorders to make them ordered.

    However, there are plenty of people with APD and other disorders who live crime free lives so it is not an excuse. I know of people with APD who are complete rogues but they only target their families. For me they seem to lack the morality gene. I bet you know some too, they are often very personable, quite clever and calculating but totally selfish. Any three of the following will get you an APD diagnosis:

    – Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest

    – Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure

    – Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead

    – Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults

    – Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
    – Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations

    – Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

    There should also be evidence of Conduct Disorder in the individual as a child, whether or not it was ever formally diagnosed by a professional.

    For full diagnosis follow the link on my name

    Separately from this we have the damage caused by drugs, I have seen the effect on a nephew of smoking cannabis, it started with paranoia but then expanded into all of their bad actions being the fault of others and similar conduct to that which MJ describes above.

    So far you are thinking you are quite safe, you are not APD and you do not take drugs, but wait, it could still happen to you too.

    Throughout my life I did a lot of volunteering, I have always felt that it was better to roll up your sleeves and help than to pay a charity. I found it kept me grounded, helping people is rewarding in itself, but it also gets you meeting people you would never meet. This is important to me as I have always felt that we all learn from others, finding the pieces of the jigsaw that we all do on our journey.

    During this time I saw two events; a father hung himself and a husband killed his wife when she said she was going to throw him out for leading a double life, he stabbed her violently so many times and even broke off the blade of the knife he used. He did this in front of his child who lost both parents as the father was sent to jail.

    Some would think I have had a privileged life, I worked hard, did all the right things and got the rewards and as things became difficult I took risks, but always did what I felt was best for my family. No matter what happened I could always look back a few years later and actually be grateful as it led to a better existence, even though I lost a marriage, I found someone else and had more children.

    Later bad times came by again and my previous experience made me braver, I saw a multi-million dollar opportunity the likes of which I had never had the chance to grab. I worked like mad for nearly two years, financing myself, but then it all fell apart. As the money dried up so did the relationship, the 2nd wife left with the kids and I became homeless with huge debt.

    During that time I realized that ANYONE can fall off the ladder, but before it happened a doctor wanted to give me another type of drug. I have always hated taking pills and the idea of needing to take a pill did not appeal. He told me to try them just for 6 weeks and then review, so I agreed. I am very analytical and usually able to see my situation from outside which helps to figure out the best way to go. Still these pills were weird, at first it was the usual symptoms you get with many medication, some headaches, dry mouth etc, but then I started to feel anxiety; something I had never felt in my life despite the ups and downs. I was very self-aware and hoped it would pass but it got worse. It seemed to amplify the issues in my life and make them even worse. I looked up the side effects of the drug and there were warnings of suicidal thoughts in the first six weeks, but what I was feeling was not that it was much worse.

    By this time I knew my wife was going to leave, now I have always believed that most children of a broken family are better off with their mother as long as access is provided to the father. What was important was there was no animosity between the parents because it is that which messes kids up. So as sad as it was, I had seen it coming and could even blame her for losing faith in me, mothers are survivors and are programmed to the best for their kids, so when faced with what seems a less risky life, they will jump ship.

    Under Doctors advice, I carried on with the pills and then something really disturbing happened, I would call them “dangerous thoughts”, not so much self-harm but two things, the magnification of the anxiety and a feeling to end not only my life but those of my children, I guess at some level it was a way of retaliation or regaining control. Yet without the medication I had no desire at all to retaliate, I even felt it would be better to be apart.

    It was at this point that I stopped the medication.

    To say that these feelings were compelling is an understatement. I started writing a log of what was happening to me, my feelings and concerns about whether I would be able to control myself. I was not hearing voices or anything and I could see that these thoughts were not rational, but the feelings came in waves and I worried about whether I would be able to control the next one. I determined that if I could just make it through the night I would get past these feelings.

    Luckily the feelings subsided as I got myself off the medication and I have never felt anything like it in the 5 years since. I believe that when you see these crazy killing sprees in the news there is pharma behind it, whether it is prescribed or recreational. In the news we have seen fathers and mother kill their children, kids going on killing sprees at school and much more besides. Yet what we do not see is what prescribed drugs were these people on, I think it should be the first thing the Police check for. Maybe someday there will be a class action law suit from the victims with the evidence that Police get.

    As for my situation, well I went on to be homeless, my health deteriorated substantially, but I managed to survive, I am not out of the water and still do not know what the future will hold. Now my biggest concern is my health not because I am worried I will die but because of how it limits my ability to work, fight and get through this.

    What I learnt shortly after being homeless is that this is all about the same thing, LOSS OF CONTROL. We all are under the same illusion that we have control of our lives, but the truth is that it is more about luck than anything and I say that as someone who has always believed they can make their own luck. Do any job, work for yourself, dust yourself down and start over, learning from your mistakes.

    So Raymondo, when I read this post I was not at all surprised, I mean how often do you hear of Mr & Mrs Perfect getting a divorce? We all wear masks and we only let very few people inside walls we put up.

    I do not know what happened with the guy you had dinner with, maybe he was an angry villain but hid it well or maybe it was the drugs. However, knowing will not really help any of us, just know that it could happen to any one of us in certain circumstances and that it is facilitated by the easy access of guns and ammunition.

    Every time you see a headline, whether it be a murder, terrorist attack in a faraway place, traffic accident or war, remember that there is a grieving family behind each of the dead.

    All that happened here is you were closer, the shock of which made it all the harder to believe, I know it did for me, I knew the Husband who killed his wife quite well; at least I thought I did.

  4. nope
    nope says:

    He had threatened the life of his wife and children with gun in hand many times. This was not a stable loving husband and father that just snapped. This was a mentally ill drug user with an abusive past, that like so my others was good at hiding it from the public.

    • Raymmar Tirado
      Raymmar Tirado says:

      That is sad to hear but not surprising. Like I said in the article, I did not know much about him but it is hard to not suspect as much as I hear more about him here in the community and on social media.

      The part of your comment that interested me was this: “like so my others was good at hiding it from the public.”

      This was what the last half of my article was about. I wonder why and how we are so good at it and having some experience as a manipulator myself, I understand how good we can be at as individuals. It’s just sad that it had to come to this to find out.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. mj
    mj says:

    Two words: self absorbed. Mentality goes something like: poor, poor me. Poor pitiful me. Life is unfair. I am OWED respect and success. I am ENTITLED to adoration and acceptance. I shouldn’t have to earn anything; it should be given to me. If I can’t get what I want, then I will take it. Then people will know me and fear me. I will show them all. I will make them wish they adored me. I will make them all sorry for ever disrespecting me. I will play GOD and be their judge, jury and executioner. As for the suggestion that they kill themselves instead of others, that would never even occur to them because they aren’t mad at themselves, they are mad at everyone else. They only kill themselves AFTER they have killed others. Murder (when not self defense) is the ultimate act of selfishness. This guy was just a selfish person just like all the other selfish people in the world who think the world owes them something. He was probably on drugs or drunk or both when he killed. Anytime you mix drugs/alcohol with extreme anger or depression, bad things will happen– be it a killing spree, a drunken driving “accident” that slaughters an entire family, the list goes on. It’s all related. It’s all due to selfish. It’s all completely ANTI GOD. He was definitely NOT a Christian even if he went to church. Christians follow Christ and His will. Period.

    • Jason
      Jason says:

      I am sure there was a lot going on in this mans life. To presume to know one thing or another is silly. And lots of people go to church for show. If you ask me, that is all church is. A show.

      This guy’s head just snapped. Maybe it was drugs or alcohol but something else must have been wrong upstairs as well.


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