WALLA WALLA - City police detectives arrested a Walla Walla man this morning for investigation of the murder of a local gang member earlier this week.
Benito Gomez, 18, was taken into custody around 2:40 a.m., Officer Tim Bennett, police spokesman, said in a news release.
The investigation into Julio Cesar Martinez's shooting death led police to Gomez, whom police say belonged to a rival gang and was interviewed at length Friday night.
Gomez was booked into the Walla Walla County Jail for investigation of first-degree murder and six counts of first-degree assault due to other people being in the immediate area when the shots that killed Martinez were fired.
Due to continued concern of increased gang violence, sheriff's deputies and city police will continue increased patrols in neighborhoods known to be frequented by gang members, Bennett said. He added that more arrests are expected as the investigation continues.
Martinez, a known gang member, was gunned down shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday while he was walking with a friend in an alley in the 300 block of Myrtle Street. Police believe Martinez, 20, was confronted by rival gang members and was shot by at least one whose face was covered below the eyes.
Three or four rivals of Martinez were seen close to the homicide, Bennett said.
Martinez's friend, identified as Miguel Angel Saucedo, ran for cover and wasn't hurt.
Martinez, whose last known address was in Milton-Freewater, was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. An autopsy Wednesday afternoon determined the cause was multiple gunshot wounds to the head, according to County Coroner Richard Greenwood.
Martinez's killing is the first known gang-related homicide in the city of Walla Walla.