Two suspects in the 2011 murder of a man and wounding of his girlfriend outside a Target store in Watsonville have been arrested, one thanks to state police in Mexico, Watsonville police said today. Miguel Angel Rodriguez, 24, is in a jail in Imperial County near San Diego awaiting extradition to Santa Cruz County in the shooting death of Gustavo Diaz on July 23, 2011, police spokesman Sgt. Eric Taylor said. Diaz’s 26-year-old girlfriend was wounded in the gunfire shot from inside a car in the parking lot of the Target at 1415 Main St., Taylor said.
Watsonville police were notified Tuesday — two years to the day of Diaz’s murder — by a U.S. Marshal in San Diego that police officers in the Mexican state of Baja California knew where Rodriguez was hiding, Taylor said. Agent Jamie Rodriguez of Baja California’s Policia Estatal Preventiva contacted the U.S. Marshal to confirm whether Miguel Angel Rodriguez was wanted for murder in the United States, Taylor said. The marshal phoned Watsonville police, who confirmed they had an outstanding arrest warrant for Rodriguez in Diaz’s murder, Taylor said.
Mexican police captured Rodriguez where he was staying in Mexicali in Baja California only hours after the confirmation and transferred him to U.S. Marshals at the Calexico border crossing in Imperial County, Taylor said. Rodriguez, originally from Watsonville, has been charged in the murder of Diaz, the attempted murder of Diaz’s girlfriend and gang enhancements, Taylor said. Watsonville police, based on evidence and witness interviews, were able to learn the identity of the second suspect in Diaz’s murder, 21-year-old Watsonville resident Cesar Rosales, the second person in the car where the shots were fired, Taylor said.
Police detectives tracked Rosales to where he worked in Watsonville and arrested him on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and gang enhancements only hours after Rodriguez’s arrest on Tuesday, Taylor said. Policia Estatal Preventiva officers told Watsonville police that they have made a priority out of pursuing and arresting fugitives from the United States who flee to Baja California, Taylor said. “We will be working with them in the future to bring closure to more (Watsonville police) cases,” Taylor wrote in a prepared statement. Diaz’s murder occurred at about 6:15 p.m. that July day as he and his girlfriend were walking out of the Target to their car.
A green Honda Accord drove by them, circled the lot, stopped near them and a passenger inside opened fire at the couple, police said. The driver of the Accord sped away, police said. Diaz died at the scene while the woman was treated for a wound in her arm and later released from a hospital. Police recovered the abandoned Accord about an hour later at an apartment complex near Ohlone Parkway. Investigators said that Diaz and Rodriguez both had been affiliated with street gangs, police said.
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