A man who drove an attempted murder suspect from the scene of a Cathedral City bar shooting that left two men hospitalized pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact Thursday.

Felipe Arechiga, 25, of Desert Hot Springs was arrested along with Santos Franco, 20, of Palm Springs in the March 5 shooting of two men outside The Block Sports Bar & Grill following an argument. Both men were initially charged with two counts of attempted murder, but only Franco, who is accused of firing on the men with a gun in each hand, will stand trial on that charge.

Arechiga’s charge was reduced at the pair’s preliminary hearing last month.

Following his Thursday plea, he is slated to be sentenced on Nov. 6, while Franco awaits trial on two counts of attempted murder and firearm use allegations.

Police received multiple 911 calls reporting gunfire at 1:47 a.m. on March 5 and found two men, ages 24 and 25, with gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the sports bar. One of the men was shot multiple times in the head and chest, while the other man was struck once in the shoulder. Both men were hospitalized for just under a week and have since recovered from their injuries.

The shooting broke out after Franco, Arechiga and one of the victims got into an argument outside the bar. That victim testified that he and Arechiga had been involved in several verbal disputes in the past, but did not elaborate on what precipitated the argument outside The Block.

Arechiga’s attorney, Bosky Kathuria, argued at last month’s hearing that the evidence did not show Arechiga had any part in orchestrating the shooting. Witnesses did testify that he left the scene with Franco, after which the pair allegedly tried to dispose of the weapons.

The men were arrested at around 2 p.m. March 5, according to Cathedral City Police Cmdr. Julio Luna, who said detectives recovered two handguns used in the shooting.

In the past year, The Block has also been the site of a fatal beating and a shooting that sent a man to the hospital.

Last June, Rolando Rodriguez was beaten outside the bar in an attack that left him comatose. He died in a hospital months later. Three men — Jorge Tapia, Michael Rios and Andrew Ponce — are awaiting trial on murder charges in connection with the beating.

This July, another argument turned into a shooting that left a man hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds to the abdomen and hand. Four men — Tomas Zaragoza, Andrew Monroy, Carlos Rodriguez, and Ricky Ceballos — were arrested and charged with attempted murder in that shooting.

The bar re-opened last month following a brief closure prompted by an expired business license.

–City News Service

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