Victim talks of fear during July graffiti shooting
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
A Carson City man said he felt bullets whiz past his head July 26 following an altercation with alleged gang members who tried to vandalize a mailbox with graffiti.
His testimony came Thursday during a preliminary hearing Thursday that will continue today in Carson City Justice Court.
The 21-year-old victim said that two hours after the graffiti incident he was walking away from taking out his trash at the Stanton Arms apartment complex on Woodside Drive when he heard someone climbing the fence behind him.
“I hear first two shots. I hear them fly by me, and I see the fire from the gun,” said the victim during questioning by District Attorney Neil Rombardo. “I hear my sister screaming. I felt like everything slowed down ” sound and everything.”
The victim said he fell to the ground and heard the bullets shatter a car window and ricochet off the stairwell where his father and sister were sitting.
Earlier that evening the man and two other tenants were standing on a balcony at the complex when a group of four people walked toward the mailboxes shaking a can of spray paint. The tenants yelled at the group, then chased them away.
Investigators claim Ricardo Llamas and John Turner, both 19, were among the men at the mailbox and as retaliation for being “disrespected,” Turner and Llamas returned and opened fire on the complex.
The two were arrested two days later and charged with suspicion of attempted murder with a deadly weapon, an alternate count of attempted murder with the intent to promote gang activity, and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to promote gang activity.
The weapon allegedly used in the event was found in the backyard of Angel Perez, 23, who was also arrested in connection with the shooting. Charges were ultimately not pursued against him in relation to the case, but he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and had his parole revoked after other weapons were found inside his home.
During Thursday’s hearing to determine if Llamas and Turner will be tried on the charges, the victim said that as bullets whizzed past him, he fell to the ground and crawled out of the way.
The victim’s father testified that he was sitting on the stairs talking with his daughter when he heard someone call to his son over the fence.
“Then all of a sudden I just heard the shots,” he said. “After the second shot, I saw (my son) dropping to the ground. I thought he was hit. I thought he was shot.”
He said he saw two men in the middle of Fairview Drive on the other side of the fence. He said one of the men was firing a handgun as the two ran toward Pheasant Drive.
The man said his daughter became hysterical and as he tried to usher her inside. He feared that his son was injured.
“I feared for my life and my kids’ lives. Any parent would feel the same,” he said.
Detective Daniel Gonzales testified to the course of events that led him to Turner and Llamas hiding in an apartment on Edmonds Drive.
The detective said that Llamas denied being at the shooting scene, but that Turner agreed to speak with investigators.
Back at the station, after Turner repeatedly denied his involvement, Gonzales said, he pointed out that Perez was not “too happy” with being arrested when he claimed he didn’t know the gun was at his house.
“I asked John if he wanted to talk to Angel, and he indeed wanted to meet with his friend,” said Gonzales.
He then retrieved Perez from the jail and left him and Turner in a room together equipped with audio and video recording devices.
After 15 minutes, Gonzales said, the two knocked on a two-way mirror to call Gonzales in the room, then asked that he bring in Perez.
After the three spoke, Gonzales split them up into separate rooms, and Turner allegedly confessed to his involvement.
“He said they were drinking and they decided to go tagging,” the officer said.
After the incident with the tenants, the men ran to a friend’s place nearby and were allegedly upset they’d been confronted.
“Then John threw out the idea that he had a gun,” said Gonzales.
Turner and Llamas allegedly went to Turner’s house.
“He and Ricardo went into the house. He went to his dresser and he said he pointed to where the gun was, and Ricardo took the gun,” said Gonzales.
Turner then allegedly went on to say Llamas fired the gun at the complex.
Turner’s attorney, John Susich, asked that his client’s statement be inadmissible.
“The DA and the police got a known gang member (Perez) into the cell for the purpose of threatening (Turner),” Susich said.
Assistant District Attorney Gerald Gardner denied the claim.
“The defense has an audio and visual CD of this entire event, and I defy them to show any coercion taking place either during that meeting or during any other part of that interview,” Gardner said.
Justice of the Peace Robey Willis denied Susich’s request.
– Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.