By Allan Jamail
JACINTO CITY – Sunday, April 11, 2021 in the early morning, about 2:30 AM, Johnny Zermeno and Dalisha Blate, after a night out together, arrived back to their 1213 Oates Road Jacinto City apartment, when the shooting happened that killed Dalisha. According to Jacinto City Police Chief Joe Ayala, his officers arrived on the scene and began the preliminary investigation. Later the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Division arrived and took over the case.
An unnamed witness who is a mutual friend of the couple, and who was on the phone with both Johnny and Dalisha at the actual time of the shooting, reported hearing the following conversation:
“Johnny, Dalisha and I were talking on our phones; I had them on my car’s speaker phone so I could easily hear them. They were in their car at their apartment when Johnny said he wanted to leave and come to visit me. But I could tell by how they were talking neither of them were in any condition to be driving. I knew they used drugs. I assumed they were heavily intoxicated on something so I kept suggesting for them to not leave in their condition but stay there and go to sleep. Johnny said, you’re right I need to go inside and go to bed, and Dalisha agreed too. Then I heard a single gunshot. I remained on the phone and listened. I wasn’t sure who got shot, but I began hearing Johnny crying and saying, ‘NO! NO! NO!’ I also could hear a woman’s voice saying, ‘Apply pressure to stop the bleeding.’ I remained on the phone hearing all the commotion for the longest time. I believe it was an accident. People get on drugs and they don’t know what they’re doing. Johnny probably mishandled the gun because of his condition and it accidentally fired hitting Dalisha. They were not arguing, Johnny wasn’t upset or mad at Dalisha, he had no reason to want to shoot her.”
Shortly after the shooting, an ambulance and medical crew arrived. It was determined the victim was already deceased upon arrival, and therefore they left the scene. The law requires for the Medical Examiner’s Office to take control of a deceased victim whenever anyone dies of an unnatural death.
According to records Zermeno had been arrested several times over the past two years for domestic violence cases where Dalisha was the victim. He’s been out on bond since August of 2020 for allegedly assaulting Blate, charging him with Continuous Violence against a Family Member in January 2020. He was out on bond at that time for a misdemeanor charge for allegedly assaulting Dalisha. A Protective Order was issued in December of 2019 to Zermeno prohibiting him from contacting her or going near her Galena Park home. On that charge, while he remained in county jail, Dalisha signed a sworn affidavit of fact that she wanted the charges dropped because she stated it was a misunderstanding and that she had acted out of anger. He posted a $30,000 surety bond and was released.
Johnny’s mother Janet Navarro said her son and Dalisha have 2 kids, a 20 month old son and 6 month old daughter. The grandmother stated at the time of the shooting she was taking care of their son, and the baby daughter was in the car when the shooting happened. Both kids are presently in Harris County Child Protective Custody until the courts decides a permanent guardian.
Ms. Navarro said her son Johnny and Dalisha knew each other most of their lives. “As kids they were together often, since my son’s grandmother and Dalisha’s grandmother lived down the street from each other in Galena Park and still do. They lost contact with each other until about 2018, and then they began their relationship and had their two kids together. Both have my son’s last name of Zermeno. They’ve lived together here in the apartments for about 6 months,” she said.
Zermeno is in jail charged with manslaughter and felon in possession of a weapon. Possible other charges could be the violation of a protective custody order. Violations of Protective Order or Restraining Order cases vary widely, some report as low as 7 percent are violated and some as high as 81 percent.
Ms. Navarro spoke with Johnny since he’s been in jail. She says he keeps crying that he can’t believe his best friend (Dalisha) is no longer here and he feels like this is a bad dream that he is having and he’s wanting to wake up from it and see she’s still alive. She acknowledges both have been using drugs against all their family members’ warnings and pleadings, and the drug scene has played a major role in their troubles, including the shooting. When asked how Johnny being a felon got a firearm, she said, “I think Dalisha got it in her name.”
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799- SAFE (7233)
Harris County’s 24 hour domestic violence hotline: 713-528- 2121
The National Drug Helpline for those struggling with any addictive substance, including alcohol: 1-844-289-0879
The National Institute of Mental Health Services are available in English and Spanish at 1-866-615-6464 or 1-866-415-8051.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, day or night, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Spanish 1-888-628-9454.