Trial proceedings were slated to begin Friday for the attempted murder trial of a man accused of shooting two men in the parking lot of a Cathedral City bar.
Santos Franco, 21, of Palm Springs, is accused in the March 5, 2017, shooting of two men outside The Block Sports Bar & Grill following an argument.
Cathedral City 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.
Franco and co-defendant Felipe Arechiga got into an argument with the men outside the bar, according to police, leading to Franco allegedly firing on both men with a gun in each hand.
At a preliminary hearing in late 2017, one of the victims 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 was initially also charged with attempted murder, but his charge was reduced to being an accessory after the fact for driving Franco from the shooting scene and helping dispose of the weapons. Arechiga pleaded guilty to the accessory charge in 2017 and was sentenced to three years probation.
The men were arrested about 12 hours after the gunfire, according to Cathedral City Police Cmdr. Julio Luna, who said detectives recovered two handguns used in the shooting.
Pre-trial motions are expected to be made in a Banning courtroom Friday, with testimony possibly beginning next week.
In addition to the March 5 shooting, the Block also is the site of a fatal beating and a shooting that sent a man to a hospital, all of which occurred within a year’s time.
In June 2016, Rolando Rodriguez was beaten outside the bar in an attack that rendered him comatose. He died in a hospital months later. Two men — Jorge Tapia and Andrew Ponce — are awaiting trial on murder charges in connection with the beating.
In July 2017, another argument turned into a shooting that left a man hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds. Four men — Tomas Zaragoza, Andrew Monroy, Carlos Rodriguez, and Ricky Ceballos — were arrested and charged with attempted murder in that shooting, and are currently awaiting trial.
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