Family pushes for reinvestigation of cadet’s Daytona Beach death

‘This was not a suicide. My son never took his life,’ Alex Bello-Ortiz’s mother said

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Police in Daytona Beach have reopened an investigation into an Embry Riddle student and Air Force cadet’s death back in 2020.

At the time, investigator’s ruled Alex Bello-Ortiz’s death a suicide, but recently his family brought detectives evidence leading them to reopen it. The family also filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was murdered by his roommate at the time.

Bello-Ortiz’s family said on Monday they have evidence proving there was an argument between him and his roommate before a trigger was pulled. They said they believe that among other evidence they found should be enough to make investigators dig deeper.

“This was not a suicide. My son never took his life,” said Lourdes Ortiz, Alex’s mother.

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In September 2020, Daytona Beach police said Bello-Ortiz was found in his home with a gunshot wound to the head. His roommate called 911.

Body camera video from police that day showed paramedics questioning if it was self-inflicted or not and said they wanted to bring police in to investigate. It also showed investigators questioning the roommate about the noises he heard.

“It sounded like a pile of stuff falling down,” he told police.

Bello-Ortiz died in the hospital the next day.

At the time, police and the medical examiner ruled it a suicide, but the lawsuit just filed by Bello-Ortiz’s family claims his roommate actually shot him. The family’s attorney and a private investigator said Ring doorbell evidence they collected has audio of an argument.

“Between two people inside the house. A lot of verbalizations during that struggle and a pronounced gunshot,” said Mark Pucci, the private investigator.

The lawsuit then claims the Ring camera also caught audio of the roommate calling his father, telling him he shot Bello-Ortiz, and the father walking him through how to restage the scene before he called 911.

The family’s attorney said they won’t release that evidence to us until the deposition is over.

“My office is offering a $10,000 reward for anybody that comes forward with information that leads to a conviction of the person who did this,” said attorney John Phillips.

Bello-Ortiz’s mother said she hopes this will get answers.

“I won’t be able to see what he could have been because his life was taken and unfortunately, the Daytona Police Department is endorsing this behavior by not holding the people responsible accountable,” she said.

News 6 reached out to Daytona Beach Police for comment. Its spokesperson said while they have reopened the case, they won’t comment on it while it’s an active death investigation.

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About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.