A 25-year-old man who allegedly took part in a gang-related shooting that left one man dead and two others wounded outside a Cathedral City strip club must stand trial on a murder charge, a judge ruled Friday.
Guillermo Cintora Gomez of Coachella is accused with Christian Miramontes, 27, and Manuel Vargas, 33, in the June 2018 shooting outside the Showgirls Gentlemen’s Club that killed 24-year-old Indio resident Jason Rosas.
Following a preliminary hearing that spanned two days at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini found prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the murder charge.
Gomez was also held to answer on a sentence-enhancing allegation that the slaying was gang-related. However, Benjamini struck a special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait, which made Gomez eligible for the death penalty though the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office opted not to pursue it.
He remains held in custody without bail, and is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 20 for a post-preliminary hearing arraignment.
Cathedral City police Sgt. Heather Olsen testified that members of Gomez’s group — all members of the same Indio-based gang — got into a fight with another group — comprising members of a rival Indio-based gang — inside the club. The fight spilled into the parking lot after they were kicked out around 2 a.m., Olsen said.
According to court documents, witnesses stated that the men were flashing gang tattoos to each other inside the club.
The altercation morphed into two separate shootings that occurred minutes apart in the parking lot, the sergeant said. Miramontes allegedly opened fire first, she said. Minutes later, Vargas allegedly fired shots as the three suspects were fleeing in Gomez’s 2016 Jeep Wrangler. Gomez is accused of being the getaway driver, and Olsen said the gun may also have been his.
Olsen testified that during interviews with law enforcement, Vargas allegedly admitted that after the first shooting, all three suspects jumped in Gomez’s Jeep, then Miramontes handed him a gun and told him to “shoot those foos,” which he allegedly admitted to doing.
All three victims were taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where Rosas later died. The other two victims, both 28 years old at the time, recovered, police said.
Gomez was arrested earlier this year in Michoacan, Mexico — where he has family — through a collaboration of Mexican and U.S. authorities.
Miramontes and Vargas were previously held to answer on similar charges, plus two attempted murder counts each and multiple special-circumstance allegations. They both remain in custody without bail and are scheduled to return to court for trial on Aug. 20. Prosecutors also opted to not pursue the death penalty for them.
Gomez has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County, court records show.