A man previously dubbed a person of interest in the weekend killings of four people in Palm Springs was charged Thursday with four counts of capital murder.
Jose Larin-Garcia, 19, of Cathedral City, was originally arrested around 8 p.m. Monday at the Greyhound bus station at 83100 Indio Blvd. on suspicion of unknown charges unrelated to the four deaths, according to Palm Springs police and jail records. Without initially releasing his name, Palm Springs dubbed him a person of interest in the killings.
Larin-Garcia was charged Thursday with four counts of murder stemming from the deaths of three people found shot in a vehicle following a traffic crash at 11:40 p.m. Sunday at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads, and for the shooting death of a fourth person found shot a half-hour later on Canon Drive south of Theresa Drive.
Larin-Garcia pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Thursday. The murder charges include the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, opening Larin-Garcia to a possible death sentence.
He is due back in court Feb. 20.
Palm Springs police said investigators have determined the killings were all connected, but they have not released any possible motive for the crimes.
Authorities have not officially released the names of the victims, but citing online fundraising campaigns, The Desert Sun identified the three people found dead in the vehicle as Jacob Montgomery, 19, Juan Duarte Raya, 18, and Yuliana Garcia, 17.
Montgomery’s mother, Dana Beauchemin, set up a GoFundMe page, saying donations “will go to help pay for funeral expenses.” KESQ reported that the first person to find out about Montgomery’s death was his grandmother, with whom he lived in Cathedral City.
Duarte Raya’s aunt, Patricia Mendoza, confirmed to The Desert Sun she created a GoFundMe page, saying “her sister and Duarte Raya’s mother had lost another son four years ago of brain cancer at age 15.”
“I want to raise money to help my sister out, she has gone through so much,” Mendoza wrote on the page.
A similar fundraiser was established on Facebook for Garcia by a family friend, The Desert Sun reported.
“She was only 17 years old, just a teen full of life who didn’t deserve this!” according to the fundraising page. “She left behind her family and friends who love her dearly.”
The person found fatally shot on Canon Drive was identified only as man in his 20s, believed to be a Palm Springs resident.
Mendoza told The Desert Sun all four victims were friends middle and high school.