The teenager from Austin, Minn., who died protecting his mother and siblings has been identified by his family.
Julio Cesar Guadalupe Rodriguez, 15, stopped a knife attack on his mother, Angie Rodriguez, by her husband before being fatally stabbed by the man Tuesday in the family's home.
Julio died Tuesday at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester.
Law enforcement officials are calling Julio a hero for not only protecting his mother during the domestic dispute, but for also keeping his five younger siblings safe.
His mother is fighting for her life, according to a fundraiser for the family.
Austin Police Chief David McKichan said in a Facebook post that despite officers' best efforts, they were unable to save the boy in what he described as one of the most challenging and tragic calls in the city's history.
"What he did in the defense of his family was incredible and should be recognized," McKichan wrote of Julio. "His love for his mother and his siblings was proven without a doubt and all who responded and have knowledge of the investigation were moved by his actions. He saved their lives."
Julio's stepfather, Jaime A. Vaca, 27, was charged Wednesday in Mower County District Court with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in connection with Julio's killing and the attack on his mother on Tuesday at their home in the 800 block of NW. 3rd Avenue in Austin, according to the charges.
Vaca remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail ahead of a court appearance on Dec. 28.
Officers found Angie Rodriguez outside the house bleeding from a stab wound to the neck and her son bleeding on a couch. Emergency responders rushed him to the Rochester hospital, where he died.
Officers found Vaca hiding in a bathroom holding a knife. He refused to drop the knife and was subdued with a Taser. The officers also found five children hiding upstairs.
Vaca and his wife were arguing in their bedroom, and one of the children asked Julio for help, the charges say. The boy kicked in the bedroom door as Vaca was on top of the his mother, choking her. Vaca got off his wife when the son intervened, grabbed a knife and stabbed Rodriguez, the charges say.
Vaca told detectives that he and his wife were arguing about his new job, which he quit the night before. He admitted stabbing Julio before he went upstairs and kissed the other children, all younger than Julio, goodbye because he intended to kill himself, he said.
When a detective told Vaca that the boy had died, he replied, "I'm a murderer," and dropped his head, the charges say.
A photo of Julio in his online obituary shows him in a football uniform.
McKichan said that he hopes to officially honor Julio, along with his family in the future.
The family is raising money for funeral expenses on Facebook.
A public visitation for Julio will be held from 1 to 8 p.m. Monday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the Clasen-Jordan Mortuary in Austin. The funeral service will be private, according to the obituary webpage.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.
Zoë Jackson covers young and new voters at the Star Tribune through the Report For America program, supported by the Minneapolis Foundation. 612-673-7112 • @zoemjack