TEMECULA, Calif. (KGTV) - A suspect is in custody in connection with the stabbing death of a 19-year-old man during an altercation near a Temecula Walmart store.
Riverside County sheriff's officials said 40-year-old James Fortney was arrested after the incident Wednesday afternoon in the retail center located in the 32000 block of Temecula Parkway.
According to sheriff's officials, deputies who responded to reports of a physical altercation near a Walmart Supercenter store arrived to find a man with stab wounds. He was treated at the scene, but officials said he later died at the hospital.
Temecula police and Riverside County sheriff's investigators believe an altercation between Fortney and the victim, identified by family members as 19-year-old Kevin Rodriguez, began outside of the shopping center property and continued into the center's parking lot.
According to his family, Rodriguez and his girlfriend stopped at the Walmart before they planned to attend a birthday celebration for his father. However, Atticus Rodriguez said his son and girlfriend spotted a man driving erratically that almost hit them. When the couple confronted the driver, a fight broke out, leading to Rodriguez being stabbed, the victim's father said.
"Turned him around and grabbed him by the neck and when (Kevin) realized what was going on, he tried to break free, but the guy had already stabbed him," Atticus Rodriguez told 10News.
Sheriff's officials said Fortney, a Temecula resident, was initially detained as a person of interest. He was later arrested in connection with the incident.
Officials did not say what charges Fortney is facing.
Fortney's daughter told 10News her father was going to Walmart with her mother for milk before the altercation. She said her dad saw Rodriguez drive through a stop sign and honked at the 19-year-old.
But she said the altercation didn't happen immediately and that when her mother returned from Walmart to get milk, the incident was already over.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez's family members say they believe the incident was road rage-related.
The victim's mother, Traci Rodriguez, said, "I never thought that he would get hurt this way. This was a senseless act, it really was … over road rage; he took my boy away from me."
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Rodriguez family.