murder

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Law enforcement officers have arrested a 33 year-old man, Neil Hiller, suspected of shooting and killing 22 year-old Joseph Deford during the early hours of Thursday morning.

According to a Tuesday release by the Del Norte County Sheriff's Office, Hiller was arrested Monday in connection with Deford's homicide. 

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office said they received a call at 1:14 a.m. Thursday; the caller reported a man lying on the ground near the 200 block of Harding Ave. An officer arrived on scene and found Deford unresponsive. The officer attempted CPR and administered naloxone, which is typically used in opioid overdoses. However, Deford could not be revived and was transported to Sutter Coast Hospital, where a small caliber bullet was found in his back, according to police.

Before the shooting, Deford was seen at the Patriot gas station on Northcrest Drive at about 12:50 a.m. Then, at 1:12 a.m.—two minutes before the 911 call—Deford was picked up by a surveillance camera near the 1200 block of California Ave. In the video, which has been viewed by the Triplicate, Deford was walking westbound, near the end of the video he glances over his shoulder. About a minute later, the camera picks up what appears to be two men on bicycles headed the same direction Deford was walking. The source who came to obtain this video wished to remain anonymous and did not want it to be published citing privacy concerns.

According to the same anonymous source, law enforcement officers were able to use the surveillance footage provided to identify and arrest the suspect on Monday.

Hiller appeared in court on Tuesday, where members of Deford's family were also present. 

Corina Deford is Joseph's grandmother, she adopted him when he was just four months old. She said she is heartbroken. 

"I'm feeling a lot of pain and I want to see justice... I couldn't even stand to look at him."

Kimmy Deford, Joseph's sister, said her brother's alleged killer didn't appear to show any remorse in court. She said she will always remember Joseph as someone who could light up a room with his laugh.

"He's just a really funny and kind-hearted person, he put everybody before himself," said Kimmy Deford.

This is an ongoing story and more details will be forthcoming.

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