Jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday in the trial of a reputed high-ranking Coachella Valley gang member accused of shooting his cousin because he believed the man was working with law enforcement.
Fernando Carlos Lopez, 46, of Coachella, was arrested four days after allegedly shooting his cousin in the back of the head on Nov. 4, 2017.
Lopez, who remains in custody at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $2 million bail, is charged with attempted murder and assault with a semi-automatic firearm, along with several gun-related sentence-enhancing allegations.
He could be sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Jury selection is expected to continue until at least the end of the week, with opening statements expected sometime the following week, Hall said.
The victim — whose name was not released — was targeted because he was a gang member considered in “bad standing” because he chose to “become classified as `PC’ (protective custody) — usually working with law enforcement,” Indio Police Department Detective Jesse Marin wrote in a bail increase declaration.
The victim was hospitalized but survived his injuries, police said.
Additional details on the attack were not released.
Whether the cousin had in fact been working with law enforcement has not been confirmed.
Lopez, also known by the gang moniker “Fernie,” is a senior member of a street gang based in Coachella, Marin wrote.
The charges he’s facing would normally have had him held on $1 million bail, but the amount was doubled at the request of police who argued that Lopez would pose a risk to the victim if freed.
Marin wrote in the bail declaration that Lopez, ” a self-admitted `OG’ (senior member)” of the gang, is “a direct family member to a local bail bonds agency.”
The “unprovoked” attack showed that the victim would face further danger if the defendant was freed, the detective said.
Lopez has previous documented felony convictions in Riverside County including burglary and domestic violence.
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