Wendell murder-suicide shakes Portuguese community

Two men are dead after a murder-suicide at the Magic Valley Portuguese Hall late Friday morning.

The victims were Tony Sousa, 56, of Wendell, and Augustin Nopal Eonu, 34, of Paul. The weapon used was a rifle in the bar of the hall, said Gooding County Sheriff Shaun Gough.

Gough wouldn’t say which of the men is believed to have been the initial shooter. Sousa had been the president of the Portuguese Hall since last October. The hall was being renovated this summer in preparation for the 20th anniversary celebration, and Eonu was one of the construction workers.

A family friend told the Times-News on Friday that the Portuguese community was in shock.

Sousa was from California but had lived in Wendell for many years.

Some other construction workers were present outside when the shooting happened around 11 a.m., Gough said, but they didn’t hear what happened. The prior relationship between Eonu and Sousa, or the possible reasons for any dispute, are unknown.

Gough said there is no danger to the community and the investigation has been turned over to the county coroner’s office.

The hall, which is located near where Bunn Street and S 2000 E meet, is used for community and cultural events and Portuguese religious celebrations, such as the Holy Spirit Festa, a yearly celebration for some Portuguese Catholics, and ones honoring Our Lady of Fatima, an appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary reported by three children in Portugal in 1916. It is the only Portuguese Hall in Idaho and has about 110 members from the Wendell area and all over the state.

According to federal American Community Survey data gathered from 2010 to 2014, 1.2 percent of Wendell School District residents reported Portuguese as their primary ancestry, which is the 11th-highest out of school districts in Idaho. Buhl is first at 2 percent, and a few other Magic Valley school districts also have slightly higher Portuguese populations.