Drew Justice

Dog walker sucker punched, dies following dispute about unleashed pit bull in park: Reports

A suspect has turned himself in Thursday, days after he allegedly fatally punched a dog walker who got into an argument with him about leashing his dog.

According to WCAU, Matthew Oropeza, 24, is currently jailed for Saturday night’s incident at Gold Park in Philadelphia that left Drew Justice, 38, dead. Justice and his fiancée were reportedly walking in the park when he instructed Oropeza to leash his pit bull.

A verbal argument ensued, with things turning violent when Oropeza allegedly punched Justice, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head on concrete. WCAU reported that Oropeza fled before police responded to the scene. The data management programmer was pronounced dead a short time later.

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KYW-TV reported that a medical examiner determined Justice died of blunt impact injury to the head. His death was reportedly deemed a homicide.

Oropeza’s facing a slew of charges, including involuntary manslaughter, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and terroristic threats. Records obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer stated that Oropeza had two previous arrests—in 2013 and 2016—for fighting. He pleaded guilty in 2013 and his 2016 disorderly conduct charge was dismissed following his completion of a diversionary program, the outlet reported.

Residents told WCAU that there’s been conflict at the popular park due to dogs and children coming into close contact there.

“They’re going to tell you their dog’s friendly,” the victim’s neighbor told the news station. “You don’t know at that moment if a dog’s going to turn. I’ve always said that one day they’re going to bite these children. But here it turned out somebody got killed over a leash.”

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[Featured Image: Drew Justice/WCAU]