HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A leader in the Latino community in Northeastern Pennsylvania, who is accused of shooting a man, is speaking out exclusively to 28/22 News.

Victor Perez insists he acted in self-defense telling his version of the events that led to gunfire.

Perez, The President of the Dominican House in Hazleton, a nonprofit Hispanic Advocacy Organization, was arrested on October 5 for shooting Bernardo Perez.

Victor Perez tells the I-Team he was defending himself when he opened fire on Bernardo Perez, claiming he regrets what happened but insists he had no other choice.

The two men are not related and Victor Perez claims he shot Bernardo Perez in self-defense.

“I am a victim. I was the victim. My family is the victim. The organization is the victim. Nobody else is the victim,” said Victor.

Victor Perez emphatically denies that he went looking for Bernardo Perez to shoot him.

The violence erupted on the evening of October 4 in the 100 block of South Vine Street. Victor Perez told the police and this reporter that he confronted Bernardo Perez about a series of derogatory articles about his family and the Dominican House, that were published in a Spanish language newspaper that Bernardo publishes.

Bernardo told 28/22 News the day after the shooting that Victor Perez opened fire as soon as he arrived in the neighborhood. Bernado showed the I-Team the bandage on his left arm covering his bullet wound. But Victor Perez insists it was he who was threatened.

According to an arrest affidavit, the shooting was the result of a feud between the two men, as Bernardo Perez told the I-Team a day after the shooting that Victor Perez came after him with a gun.

But, Victor Perez tells a different version of the incident that day.

“The guy coming out with a knife against you in the hand. You advise, don’t come in front of me and he continues walking in front of you and you advise him that was a moment that just moment day what are you going to do,” Victor explained.

Victor Perez claims he did not want violence.

“He comes against me he takes a knife from his trunk, his car, and comes against me. I say don’t come against me. I got a gun in the car,” Victor added.

Bernardo Perez, speaking through an interpreter, told 28/22 News the day after the shooting that Victor Perez was the aggressor.

“When he was unloading his car Mr. Perez showed up there and started shooting. Mr. Perez asked Mr. Perez to keep back all the time. He came threatening him with a gun,” Bernado claimed.

Victor Perez claims at first he fired warning shots in the direction of Bernardo.

“I said don’t come against me. I shoot the first time to the floor to advise him that don’t come against me. I advised him so he continued waking against me. I shot the second time right and he continued against me,” Victor continued.

It’s then he says he shot Bernardo in the arm.

“I did not try to kill him because he was in short distance if I shot him to the front, he’d be killed right now,” Victor said.

“You shot his arm holding the knife,” Mehalshick asked.

“He was walking against me,” stated Victor.

We were unable to contact Bernardo on Monday. The two will come face to face at a hearing on November 22.

The I-Team is still working on the story and will keep you updated with the latest as it becomes available.