The transgender San Jose woman who’s in jail for allegedly shooting her ex-partner in a Costco parking lot said that she did it after years of fear and frustration, and that she hadn’t been trying to kill him.
“I shot my husband,” said Nori Tejero, 44, in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. “He was my partner of 24 years, and there were multiple reasons why I shot him.”
Mostly, though, “I shot him to let him know he was not going to be the one to put a bullet in my head,” she added.
Tejero, who used to work for the Billy DeFrank LGBT Center, been charged with assault with a firearm in the July 5 incident, which left the victim with a non-lethal gunshot wound to the leg.
In an interview last week at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas, she said that she’d threatened to leave the victim multiple times, but he’d told her he’d shoot her if she did.
Tejero said she finally left, but she eventually returned and shot him at the South San Jose Costco where he worked after he failed to return some of her belongings.
The victim told police that Tejero had been upset about his new girlfriend and angry that he wanted her to come get her things, according to court records. Both Tejero and the victim told police that they hadn’t been married.
Tejero, who cried while speaking with the B.A.R., said that after fights they had over the years, when she talked about leaving him, “he told me he would put a bullet in my head if I did that.”
She also said, “He didn’t beat me, but there were many instances of rape and sexual assault,” and he was “very degrading” toward her. She didn’t want to discuss details of the rapes, and she said she didn’t tell police about them until after her arrest.
Court records say that Tejero told police at the time of her arrest that in 2015, the victim had “pointed a gun at her and told her that he would kill her if she ever left him. This incident was not reported before today.”
An officer also reported that Tejero said the victim had been “verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive toward her.”
‘Nothing but the clothes on my back’
The victim had acquired “about a dozen” guns over the years, Tejero said. They’d gone shooting together, and guns played “a prominent role in both our lives.”
She said she’d tried to leave him four times, but he’d come after her at least once.
Finally, in February, she said, she fled with “nothing but the clothes on my back” to the Stockton area. She eventually returned, and she and her ex started talking about when she’d be able to get her things, which included jewelry, a childhood teddy bear, and woodworking tools.
At first, she said, “We had met amicably,” and she got some of her things back, but after not hearing from him for several days, he told her things had been thrown out. He soon told her he hadn’t really thrown away her possessions, but she said she was “mad” because he was playing the same games he had in the past.
She said when she went to Costco that Wednesday, she mostly wanted “to let him know that I could not be played with like that anymore.”
According to court records, Tejero took her roommate’s vehicle and his Taurus .357 revolver without his knowledge and waited in the Costco lot until her ex was leaving work at about 12:30 p.m.
She told police that “she asked the victim why he was treating her so badly and they began to argue,” the records say. “The suspect stated that the victim began to yell at her,” and she pulled out her gun.
Tejero also told police that “she initially had pointed the gun at the victim’s ‘nuts’ ... but then she felt bad” so she shot him in the leg instead.
At first, she told police, “the victim just stood there,” but then he ran and she chased him for about four parking spaces before she stopped, according to court records.
The victim reported that when he saw Tejero in the parking lot, “She asked him why he was avoiding her. He told her he had been on vacation. She said, you were with her weren’t you. He said he was,” and Tejero shot him. As he ran from Tejero back into Costco, the victim said, he’d yelled for co-workers to call police.
He told police that Tejero had been “upset because of their relationship ending and he has a new girlfriend,” the records say, and she’d recently sent him emails “in which she was angry because he wanted her to come get her property.”
The victim said Tejero had “told him if he discarded her property she would kill him.”
A witness told police that just after the shooting, Tejero asked the witness “if she should leave, and he told her to stay." The man asked her for the gun and she gave it to him.
Court records say the victim’s brother told police that Tejero had emailed her ex in late June “threatening to shoot him if he did not come back to her. The suspect said, ‘I want you back, you need to come back to me.’”
Asked about the email, Tejero told the B.A.R., “I do remember sending him something about him begging for his life like I had begged him to treat me like a human being.”
Tejero, who said she still loves the victim, is being held on $175,000 bail. She’s expected to enter a plea July 31.
Deputy Public Defender Dennis Dawson said that he didn’t have any information related to Tejero’s allegation that her ex had raped her, and he said he didn’t want to discuss details of the case.
“I’d rather have this argued out and litigated in court,” he said.
This article was originally published July 20, 2017, in the Bay Area Reporter.