Person of interest in Tulare County homicide once called ‘advocate for immigration rights’

KSEE24 News

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man they believe was at the scene of a homicide last month.

24-year-old Jose Bello Reyes is wanted for questioning in the Oct. 15 shooting death of a 58-year-old man whose body was found in an orchard in Terra Bella. But just two years earlier Reyes was being called an advocate for immigration rights.

Reyes, who was once looked at as an advocate for civil rights and who even got the backing of the ACLU is now a person of interest in a homicide case.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said although Reyes is only a person of interest in the shooting death of 58-year old Douglas Cline they are still very interested in talking to him.

24-year-old Jose Bello Reyes, Photo Courtesy: TCSO

“We want to find the truth and the facts of the case we believe that he has a lot of information in regards to this homicide,” Boudreaux said.

It was back on Oct. 15 that deputies received a call of a man shot dead in an orchard in Terra Bella

“We called out our homicide investigators where we determined that he had been shot in the upper torso and he had been shot multiple times.”

There were three person’s of interest wanted for questioning in the case which included Jesus Manjarrez, 23, Dan Perez, 34, and Jose Bello Reyes, 24. Manjarrez and Perez were found and arrested, but Reyes has yet to be found or turn himself in.

Boudreaux said Reyes was the last person known to be in Tulare County. “That’s why he’s a person of interest. We believe that he was or possibly was at the scene of this homicide.”

In 2019, Reyes was in the news for a different reason.  A video of him standing before a Kern County board meeting and reading a poem called “Dear America,” followed by his arrest some 36 hours later, got national attention.

Many believed the arrest was retaliation for speaking out against ICE with the “Dear America” poem. The case even got the attention of the ACLU as they tried to bail him out of jail. The arrest however was due to a prior DUI charge.

Now, however, Reyes’ case is not about immigration rights, but about drugs and homicide.

“He is a strong person of interest and we would ask for the public’s help we would also ask for this person to give us a call and give us his side of the story if, in fact, he is innocent.”

Boudreaux also said that deputies are working with neighboring kern county because Reyes is wanted in that county as well.

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