A suspect in the drive-by shooting death of 3-year-old Carlos Nava in East Oakland last week was arrested two years ago for allegedly choking his ex-girlfriend and threatening to shoot her in the face, according to court records.
However, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office dismissed criminal threat and battery charges against Willie Torrence, 22, of Oakland, for the Oct. 3, 2009, incident last year after he admitted that he had violated his probation for his previous conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm in a 2007 case.
Torrence’s plea agreement on Aug. 9, 2010, called for him to serve 16 months in state prison, but he was released from custody shortly afterward because he had already accumulated nearly 500 days of custody credits. Oakland Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan said today that Torrence was arrested in Las Vegas shortly after 11 p.m. Friday after being spotted in a car, according to police.
He was still on parole for his weapon conviction. Jordan said police waited until today to announce Torrence’s arrest because they wanted to gather more information about him and did not want to disclose evidence in the case. Jordan said police believe Torrence was the driver in the shooting incident in the 6400 block of International Boulevard at about 1:10 p.m. Aug. 8 in which Carlos was killed and two adult males were wounded.
Police said they believe the shooting was gang-related and the two adult men were the intended targets in the shooting, as Carlos and his family had no connection with them. The suspected shooter, 26-year-old Oakland resident Lawrence Denard, was arrested in Pittsburg last Tuesday. On Thursday, Denard was arraigned on one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. He is scheduled to return to court Aug. 29 to enter a plea.
According to a probable cause statement filed in court by detectives, one of the men who was shot provided Torrence’s name when he was questioned at the hospital where he is being treated. Investigators also located an additional witness who identified the shooter as Denard. Jordan said he does not know if the car that Torrence was using in Las Vegas is the same car that was used in the shooting last week. Jordan said Torrence is still being held in Las Vegas.
He said it is expected that Torrence will be extradited to Alameda County later this week after the district attorney’s office files charges against him, a process that could take several days. Deputy District Attorney Catherine Kobal said in a legal brief last year that Torrence’s ex-girlfriend said Torrence was waiting for her and pushed her when she entered her apartment on 69th Avenue on Oct. 3, 2009. The apartment is near the area where Carlos was fatally shot last week.
The ex-girlfriend told authorities that she and Torrence argued inside her apartment for about 15 minutes and then he grinned, pulled out a gun and told her several times that “he should shoot her in the face,” according to Kobal’s brief. Torrence punched the woman in her chest between 10 and 20 times and then got on top of her and choked her with both hands, according to the brief. The confrontation lasted between two and three hours and finally ended when the ex-girlfriend’s mother entered the apartment, Kobal said.
Torrence was arrested on the illegal gun charge on Aug. 31, 2007, in the 1100 block of 69th Avenue, which also is near the area where Carlos was shot. According to court records, police made a traffic stop on the car in which Torrence and another man were traveling because it had an expired registration and a brake light was out. Torrence also was convicted of robbery when he was a juvenile and declared a ward of the juvenile court system, according to court records.
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