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Buffalo police: Pastor confessed to old homicide

BUFFALO, N.Y. - BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A pastor has admitted he was the gunman who fatally shot a teenager nearly 12 years ago after storming into the apartment the victim shared with his girlfriend and 4-month-old child, police said Tuesday.

Detectives said tips led them to 31-year-old Jose Figueroa, who was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Alex Martinez in January 1998.

Figueroa confessed shortly after arriving at police headquarters for questioning Monday, police said.

"He indicated that sometime over the last several years he had found a new path in life and that he had become very religious and became a pastor," Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said. "So that was one of the reasons I think that led to his confession."

Martinez was shot in the head as he took a bath after two masked men kicked in the door to his apartment, The Buffalo News reported at the time.

Figueroa's confession "was very forthcoming, very quick," Cold Case Detective Brian Ross said. "He showed remorse, accepted responsibility for his actions."

Gipson on Tuesday declined to discuss a possible motive for the shooting, saying investigators were continuing to look for others involved. Police at the time said they were investigating a possible drug motive.

Ross said the victim's relatives are relieved by the arrest.

"The child is now 12 years old and now he knows what happened to his father, and that's bringing comfort to the family at this particular time," Ross said. "But they're still working through the emotions of this case."

In addition to being a pastor, Figueroa told officers he works as a cleaner. Police declined to discuss his church affiliation or place of employment because the investigation was ongoing.

Figueroa was ordered held without bail Tuesday until his next court date Nov. 13. He did not have a lawyer. A telephone listing for Figueroa could not be located, and calls to churches in his neighborhood were not immediately returned.

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