Parents of slain Central Texas teen push for more streetlights

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) The parents of a murdered 19-year-old are turning their grief and pain into a mission to make neighborhoods safer by pushing for more streetlights.

Parents of Jonathan Martinez-Cruz pushing for new street lights in the city of Killeen.

“It’s been a very hard journey. I miss my son every second of the day,” said Keila Cruz.

With each passing day, a new personal mission for the parents of Jonathan Martinez-Cruz: bringing light to Killeen streets.

“I’m making it my mission to not only put a light where Jonathan Martinez got killed but in every neighborhood that needs more than one light,” said mother Keila Cruz.

Jonathan Martinez-Cruz was fatally shot on Oct. 30 around 10 p.m. in the 3900 block of Old FM 440.

His murder remains unsolved.

In the area where he was shot, an Oncor map points to two streetlights.

There were none covering the area where his body was found.

Keila Cruz believes one light could have made a difference.

“Unfortunately my son got shot in a very dark place, which makes it hard to identify the people who committed it,” she said.

Just after one month of his death, family and friends returned to the same area, our camera, passing vehicles and candles providing light.

The parents are hoping to turn the dark spots into a well-lit area, not only along Old FM 440, but also across neighborhoods in Killeen.

Current city regulations say streetlights must be placed at least 1,200 feet apart.

It’s a distance that Councilman Steve Harris says he’s open to pushing again on city council.

He says he would change the regulation and include older developments that are in need.

“One of my proposals before was to decrease to every 600 feet which would help the lighting in that neighborhood,” Harris said.

He says it’s a feasible option.

“At the same time Oncor installs, maintains the lamps. City of course would have to pay the bill, but Oncor at the same time has more efficient lighting that would make the costs of those lights being up minimal,” he said.

For this family, adding more street lights is just the first step in helping to make neighborhoods safer.

“To all the families that have lost loved ones this year and years back, they need to contact everybody. We need to all get together and push the city to do more,” said father Avery Wiley.

The city of Killeen says the process requires sending someone to check the area to see if there are issues with compliance or maintenance.

In a statement, Oncor says they “work closely with city officials across our service territory to maintain existing lights and install additional lighting as determined by each city.”

Residents may report streetlight outages or concerns to the company online or by calling a 24-hour hotline at 883-313-4747.

Anyone with information on Jonathan’s murder is asked to call the Killeen Police Department.