Four men were arrested Tuesday by Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputies in connection with the Saturday shooting death of a 14-year-old Watsonville High School student. According to the sheriff’s office, Jesse Lopez and his friend, also 14, rode with some newfound acquaintances in their car to a turnout in the 400 block of Hecker Pass Road on Saturday evening.
A second car, containing people known to the acquaintances but not to the boys, pulled into the turnout, and shortly thereafter the boys were shot, according to the sheriff’s office. Lopez’s friend ran into nearby woods after being shot and phoned 911 at about 8:15 p.m. to report they had both been shot. Responding deputies found Lopez, who had been shot several times with a handgun, lying in the turnout. His friend emerged from the woods, and both boys were transported to a hospital.
Lopez was pronounced dead at the hospital, but his friend was treated and released. At about 9:35 p.m., Santa Cruz police officers responded to a report of gang activity at a convenience store near downtown, where they arrested four men who were later connected to the homicide by sheriff’s detectives after further investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.
David Moreno Sanchez, 19, Alejandro Alexis Rodriguez, 18, Juan Soto Gonzalez, 22, and Carlos Valencia, 20, all of Watsonville, were incarcerated in county jail on suspicion of participation in a criminal street gang when they were arrested in connection with the murder, the sheriff’s office said. Sanchez and Rodriguez are suspected of homicide and attempted homicide, while Gonzalez and Valencia are suspected of serving as an accessory to murder.
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