Sandra Mireles-Perez returned to her Odenton home with groceries in hand, blankly staring at the family and friends there to comfort her after losing her husband, Nicholas Mireles, and stepson, Mario Mireles, on Sunday in a mass shooting in Annapolis by a gunman upset over parking.
Perez has become disconnected to the world since the carnage that killed three and injured three others, she said. All she can do is try to carry on for her other eight children, ages 1 to 16.
It wasn’t until her daughter-in-law, Judith Abundez, came by that she could no longer hold in her emotions. The two tightly hugged as tears fell down their faces. No words were spoken for 2 1/2 minutes as they consoled each other, knowing they would never hold their spouses in the same way again.
Mario Mireles, 27, Nicholas Mireles, 55, and a family friend, Christian Marlon Segovia, 25, lost their lives after Charles Robert Smith allegedly fired shots during a confrontation over his car being blocked in his driveway as visitors parked on the street during a birthday party for Mario’s older brother in the 1000 block of Paddington Place. Smith was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and related offenses.
“When I realized it was gunshots, I took the kids and ran inside of the house. I didn’t see Nicholas until he was on the ground because I was in the room with kids hiding. They were screaming, and I didn’t really know what was going on,” Perez said.
Like his mother, Eric Mireles-Perez, 16, was in the backyard when he thought he heard fireworks near the front entrance of his brother’s home, he said.
Court records claim Mario Mireles went to talk to Smith about parking when Smith pulled out a gun and the argument became physical. Smith shot Mireles during a “tussle” with the gun and then shot Segovia. Smith then retreated into his house, and court records allege he set up a rifle and began firing out the window at people who rushed into the street to help the victims, shooting four additional people and killing Nicholas Mireles.
“When Mario was out there fighting, everybody went around to the front because we thought it was fireworks. And, when we all realized it was gunshots, my father went to go to protect my brother and he got shot in the middle of it. … Mario got shot first,” Eric said. “The neighbor did not like him.”
Danny Mireles-Perez, 12, another son, said he watched as Smith shot Mario, stepped over his body and shot him again. The boys’ said they think Mario Mireles was shot at least five times.
“I also heard people saying we shot back. And that’s not true,” Danny added.
Members of the Mireles-Perez family said there was a long-standing feud that Smith and his mother, Shirley Smith, had with the Mireles family over street parking and music played during gatherings. They never dreamed the dispute would escalate to this magnitude, they said.
“There was no need to bring a gun into this argument. Things did not have to get to this level. We could’ve just moved the car,” Eric said.
Shirley filed for a peace order against Mario Mireles in 2016, according to previous reporting from The Banner. Court records say he backed out of his driveway and caused her to brake suddenly to avoid hitting his car. The next month, she wrote, he stepped into the street and hit her car with a wet towel or blanket. Years earlier, she reported Mario Mireles for throwing rocks at street signs and hitting neighbors’ cars and his family threatened to sue her, she wrote in her petition.
Court records also show Mario Mireles filed a petition for a peace order that same day against Shirley Smith, claiming she has had problems with him since he was 11 and claims she has spewed racial slurs in the past.
On Tuesday, a judge ordered Charles Smith held without bond. Kathleen Kirchner, an attorney for some of the victims’ family members, spoke to reporters outside the District Court of Maryland for Anne Arundel County in Annapolis after the court hearing.
“The entire group was relieved that the judge held the defendant with no bond. We think that was appropriate. There is a significant public safety issue as it relates to this case, and this unprovoked attack on this family,” Kirchner said.
However, she is aware “the defendant in this case didn’t particularly care for Mario” and they’ve lived on the same street for a long time. “You can make of that what you want,” she said.
Mariana Segovia, the older sister of one of the three victims, said, ”The family is very grateful for all of the condolences that everyone is giving [them]. This is a very, very serious matter. I really don’t want it to be swept under the rug for anybody.”
“This is an issue that’s been going on all over America, and it’s really unfortunate that it’s so close to home here in Annapolis, out of all places,” Segovia added, before asking everyone to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers.
Abundez, Mario’s wife and a mother of three pregnant with a fourth child, declined to comment about the death of her spouse.
Eric Mireles-Perez said he will miss Mario Mireles as well.
“He was a great big brother to me,” Eric said. “He taught me a lot of things, like how to ride a motorcycle, and he gave me a lot of things, whether it be clothes or shoes. ... He even gave me this shirt,” he said pointing to the shirt.
Sandra Mireles-Perez, a homemaker, is left to figure out how she will continue to provide for her and Nicolas’ eight children, Eric ; Danny ; Nelly, 11; Elvin, 8; Arelly , 7; Rosibel, 6; Christopher, 3, and Lilana, 1, she said.
“All I can I do is try to be strong for my kids. We depended on [Nicholas] for everything,” Sandra Mireles-Perez said. The two met in Annapolis Mall in 2010 and have been together ever since.
Susie Cruz, a family friend, met Nicholas Mireles at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis 29 years ago. She said he was one of the first newcomers who began attending the Hispanic ministry and most of his kids were baptized there.
“He was a really nice guy. He cared for everybody, but his kids were his priority. And that’s what makes this so hard because they were celebrating the older brother,” Cruz said. “And now [Sandra is] in a really tough situation where he was the provider and she cared for the kids.”
She said everyone was present to begin discussing the funeral arrangements, including how to pay for them.
Nicholas Mireles had his own landscaping business and often worked on home projects, Perez said. “He worked on the roof, built the patio out in the back and all types of things around here,” she said.
Sandra Mireles-Perez said her husband wanted his children to have more than he did.
“He would also say, ‘I try to give them everything because, when I was a kid, I wished to have things like a car and toys.’ He didn’t want them to feel like they had to go without like he did,” she said, adding that he was a “great” father.
Eric agreed. Nicholas was going to start teaching Eric to drive when he got out of school for the summer, but now his dad’s friends will have to help him.
“He could be tough on me, but he loved me at the same time. He just wanted to teach me the way that things go and how life worked,” Eric said. “He was brave. He was a family man. And it really hurts that he’s no longer here with us.”
Dylan Segelbaum contributed to this story.