An example of a handgun being aimed. Photo from Pixabay.
An example of a handgun being aimed. Photo from Pixabay.

Three men suspected in a gang-related shooting 17 years ago that killed a driver at an Indio intersection must stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges, a judge ruled Monday.

Enoc Calderon, 39, of La Quinta, and Indio residents Juan Antonio Hernandez, 36, and Frederico Sanchez, 40, are each charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder stemming from the Sept. 22, 2001, shooting.

The men also face sentence-enhancing allegations of committing the crime for the benefit of a street gang and discharging firearms causing great bodily injury and/or death.

According to Indio police Sgt. Daniel Marshall, the case was reopened by members of the Cold Case Unit, composed of retired law enforcement personnel who volunteer their time to investigating unsolved homicides, resulting in the arrests of Calderon and Sanchez in June 2016. Hernandez was already in state prison on an unrelated matter.

The fatally injured victim, Alfred De La Garza, was behind the wheel of a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass that was stopped at a red light on Clinton Street, just north of Highway 111, when he and his passengers were targeted. The suspects, who were at a nearby 7-Eleven store, approached the car and began yelling and flashing gang signs, according to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant prepared by Indio police Cpl. Leonardo Perafan.

Believing the car’s occupants to be from a rival gang, the defendants allegedly threw bottles at the Cutlass and assaulted the victims before shots were fired, Perafan wrote.

De La Garza suffered multiple shots to the upper body, while a backseat passenger suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his lower leg. Two other men in the car were not struck by the gunfire.

Witnesses alleged that Calderon walked around the back of the car and fired the fatal shots, while Sanchez threw a beer bottle at the car and then began punching De La Garza. Hernandez was identified at the scene as one of “several” men who ran toward the car, displaying gang signs, according to the declaration.

All three defendants are being held on $4 million bail and are due back in court April 17 for a post-preliminary hearing arraignment.

–City News Service

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