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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Two held in gangland spree


16:21 |

Two men were arrested and another two were wanted by police in connection with a gang-related, one-day crime spree in Grand Junction that included a man’s murder, the armed robberies of two businesses and a residential burglary, Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper said Friday.

And while Camper said the threat from the four suspects was “mitigated,” an investigation that involved up to 25 detectives or officers from inside and outside the agency has cast new light on gang activity overall in Grand Junction.

“The investigation brought to light other concerns which we weren’t aware of,” Camper said, declining to give specifics.

Camper did not answer many questions about the case, citing the ongoing investigation and that arrest affidavits for the suspects remain sealed.

Three of the suspects were believed to have come to Grand Junction from California, and one was a local. Authorities didn’t confirm addresses for any of them.

Lester Isaac Miranda-Davis, 18, was booked into the Mesa County Jail just after 2 a.m. Friday on a warrant on suspicion of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, menacing, aggravated robbery, first-degree burglary, plus misdemeanor and felony counts of theft. Miranda-Davis graduated from Central High School in May and had been a member of the school’s varsity wrestling team his junior and senior years, according to School District 51 officials.

Christian Fuentes, 20, is in custody in Alameda County, Calif., where he was arrested for a parole violation, Camper said Friday. Another two suspects, Jaime Cardenas, 19, and Fidel Silva, 24, are wanted on warrants and are believed to have fled Colorado, Camper said.

All three have pending charges in Grand Junction including first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, felony menacing, first-degree burglary and first-degree assault.

Among unanswered questions, authorities Friday declined to specify which of the four men is believed to have fatally shot 31-year-old Jorge Alberto Carrasco around 11 p.m. Saturday outside of the Taco Bell restaurant at 850 North Ave.

Witnesses said at least one person, possibly two, approached Carrasco, who was among a group of three people outside the restaurant, and opened fire. The gunman reportedly said something before brandishing a gun, although police have not specified what was said. Camper on Friday acknowledged the statement was a gang reference.

Saul Holguin told The Daily Sentinel on Monday that his brother, Cesar Holguin, was the second man shot, and he identified Andy Garcia, another friend of Carrasco’s, as the man who was hit by shrapnel.

Saul Holguin said his brother explained that two men, whom the alleged victims didn’t recognize, shouted “XIV 14 (expletive)” before firing multiple rounds.

Internet searches suggest the phrase refers to the Norteno gang, associated primarily with northern California.

‘MAKES ME SICK’

Miranda-Davis’s alleged involvement in gang-related happenings, much less a man’s killing, left his former Central High wrestling coach stunned.

“It makes me sick,” said Laurence Gurule, Central’s varsity wrestling coach and a physical education teacher.

“Absolutely never had any problems with him ... a good kid, hard worker,” Gurule said.

Miranda-Davis had been working at a local fruit orchard, he said. Miranda-Davis competed in the wrestling program his junior and senior years, while Gurule said he first met him during his freshman year when the boy was primarily interested in soccer.

A check of records with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation showed no adult criminal history for Miranda-Davis, who turned 18 last August.

Miranda-Davis had talked about walking on to the wrestling program at Mesa State College this fall, Gurule said.

 


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