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Argument Over Dog May Have Sparked Fatal Shooting

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A 63-year-old Meadow Lake man was arrested on charges he shot and killed his friend Saturday after the men were involved in an argument earlier, according to the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office.

Valencia County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jefferson Grayson on an open count of murder after deputies said he shot Leland Snell, 34, while the two were part of a social gathering that included Snell’s live-in girlfriend, said Valencia County Sheriff Capt. Gary Hall.

About 9:45 p.m., deputies responded to a shots fired call and found Snell with gunshot wounds at a residence at 65 High Mesa Road in Meadow Lake. Grayson surrendered to deputies without incident.

Hall said Grayson complied with dispatcher instructions to remain unarmed and at the residence until deputies arrived.

“It may be a question of self-defense,” said Hall. “Right now, we just need to complete everything. We have charged him with an open count of murder based on what we have.

“That’s probably the reason why he stayed is that he believes you have the right to defend yourself.”

According to the complaint, the group was “drinking beer and frying fish” that night when Snell brought a large dog into Grayson’s home. Snell left the residence after Grayson became agitated, the complaint said.

The complaint said Grayson was unhappy after Snell re-entered the residence and an argument started between the two men.

Hall said at some point, Grayson pulled out a .40-caliber revolver from his waistband to which Snell responded, “What are you going to do with that? Shoot me with it?”

According to the criminal complaint, Grayson shot Snell in the upper thigh, abdomen, torso and chest at close range. Grayson told deputies his reason for firing at Snell was “he was coming at me,” the complaint said.

“We are still unclear on what caused the argument,” Hall said. “There has been indications it was caused over a dog — we aren’t sure.”

Hall said Grayson, Snell and his live-in girlfriend and another man were at the home at the time of the shooting. He said the group were all friends and all live in the immediate area.

Hall said Snell was alive when emergency crews arrived on scene, but was pronounced dead before they could transport him to the hospital.

He said there was a “presence of alcohol” at the residence, but that the sheriff’s office hasn’t made a determination if alcohol was a factor in the shooting.

On Monday, Hall said further interviews must be conducted to determine more details about the actual argument. He said there are “clear discrepancies” in witness statements and there are questions as to how much witnesses actually saw.

Hall said the other man at the residence had a medical episode similar to a seizure right around the time of the shooting.

Grayson is being held on a $500,000 cash-only bond ordered by Magistrate Tina Gallegos during his first court appearance hearing on Tuesday.

Gallegos said Grayson could enter a plea during his preliminary hearing, which is expected to be scheduled in the next 10 days if he is not indicted by a grand jury first.

The July 23 shooting marks the second time this year that there was a fatal shooting in the Meadow Lake area.

In May, 19-year-old Brandon Casias was arrested in connection of a shooting that claimed the life of his wife, Amber.

Casias was charged with an open count of murder, negligent use of a weapon and two counts of abandonment or abuse of a child in that case.

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