WALLA WALLA — A second man has been charged and arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a rival gang member during a confrontation last year in the west end of town.
Andres Solis, 20, was apprehended late Sunday morning outside his College Place residence.
Solis was charged Sept. 28 in Walla Walla County Superior Court with second-degree murder, felony riot and three counts of first-degree assault. Bail on the arrest warrant was set at $250,000.
If convicted as charged, he would face decades in prison.
Benito Gomez, the trigger man in the slaying, is serving what amounts to a life prison term. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden said in a recent interview that although Solis did not fire any shots, he is believed to have been the primary instigator of the confrontation that turned fatal.
The murder charge accuses Solis of engaging in the crime of felony riot when the victim, Julio Cesar Martinez, was mortally wounded. The assault charges stem from shots fired at Martinez and two of his fellow gang members who were there.
Officials claim Solis and three of his fellow members arrived in the alley off the 300 block of Myrtle Street about 6 p.m. on May 17, 2011, to fight the three rivals.
During the confrontation, Solis’ fellow gang member Gomez, 19, shot rival Martinez, 20, twice in the head. Martinez died later that night at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.
At a trial this past June, a jury convicted Gomez of second-degree murder for causing Martinez’s death and six counts of first-degree assault for shooting at others in the alley and into an adjacent residence. Gomez later was sentenced to nearly 115 years in prison.
Officials said the murder occurred after Gomez, Solis, Alberto Ramirez and Michael Mercado met in the area of Sprague Avenue and Myrtle, and decided to fight the rivals because they had moved into their area.
Gomez, Solis, Ramirez and Mercado walked south on Sprague, east on Chestnut Street and north into the alley between Chestnut and Myrtle. Gomez covered his face with a bandanna and the four approached the three rivals.
As they were preparing to fight, Gomez drew a .40-caliber pistol and fired five bullets. Martinez was struck in the head by two of them. Gomez also shot at Martinez’s fellow gang members, Miguel Saucedo and Joseph Dejesus, as they fled from the alley into their apartment building at 331 Myrtle. No one but Martinez was hit.
Gomez then ran west on Myrtle. Solis, Ramirez and Mercado headed south down the alley and dispersed.
The murder weapon wasn’t found.
Solis testified at Gomez’s trial that he was in the alley for what was going to be a fight with the rival gang, but said he didn’t know anyone was armed with a gun and didn’t see who fired.
He acknowledged he initially lied to police several times about his involvement.
Based on witness statements included in a police report filed in court, Solis encountered rivals Martinez and Saucedo in the general area shortly before the fatal confrontation. Solis also phoned fellow gang member Ramirez and told him to come to the fight, the police report says.
In addition, Gomez reportedly met with Solis at Solis’ then-residence shortly after the shots were fired, and gave Solis his shorts and white T-shirt with instructions to have them burned.
Golden said that Ramirez and Mercado also may face charges in connection with the case, but murder charges are not expected to be among them.