July 3, 2008
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and Joliet Police Chief Fred Hayes announce murder charges have been filed against seven individuals in connection with their alleged involvement in the fatal shooting of a Joliet man outside a local Walgreens in April.
Alfredo Lopez was caught in the middle of an alleged gang fight between the Latin Kings and the Vice Lords. He was shot and killed as he walked with his 11-year-old and 8-year-old children while approaching the entrance to the Walgreens at 358 E. Cass Avenue on April 16.
The alleged shooter, Daniel Huizar, 18, of Joliet, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm shortly after Mr. Lopez was killed. Huizar was arrested and indicted. He is awaiting trial in the Will County Jail.
The murder charges filed Wednesday are against seven other individuals – two alleged members of the Latin Kings and five alleged members of the Vice Lords – all of whom allegedly were involved in the mob action that led to the death of Mr. Lopez. The charges follow an exhaustive compilation and review of evidence by Joliet police and the state’s attorney’s prosecutors.
Joliet Police arrested the seven men on Wednesday. Will County Circuit Judge Sarah Jones signed arrest warrants with bonds for each defendant ranging from $5 million to $1 million.
The two alleged Latin Kings – Reyes Velasquez, 19, and Miguel Garcia, 18, both of Joliet – were each charged with one count of felony mob action, one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm and three counts of first-degree murder.
The five alleged Vice Lords – Juan Ornelas, 20, Jose Aguirre, 20, Sergio Garcia, 20, and Erik Perez, 20, all of Joliet; and Fabian Vargas, 19, of Channahon – were each charged with one count of felony mob action and one count of first-degree murder.
Under well-established Illinois law, police and prosecutors can seek to hold these individuals accountable for instigating and advancing the violent altercation that claimed the life of Mr. Lopez. All of the individuals who were charged Wednesday face up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
“I approved these charges to send a resounding warning to every gang banger in Joliet and Will County that we will never tolerate these gutless acts of violence,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “We’re putting the gangs on notice: steer clear of weapons and violent altercations. If there’s a gang fight and someone dies, we will relentlessly pursue everyone involved – both on the streets and in the courtroom – no matter who pulled the trigger. The theories of accountability and felony murder create far-reaching legal tentacles that give law enforcement the power to prosecute everyone involved in these senseless atrocities.”
According to Joliet Police Chief Fred Hayes: “The Joliet Police Department continues to focus its efforts on the deadly combination of gangs, guns, and drugs which leads to senseless acts of violence. This case is yet another example of how, working closely with the Will County State’s Attorney, we can rid our city streets of gang bangers so citizens can live peacefully and without fear.”
The state’s attorney credited Chief Hayes and Joliet’s team of first-rate detectives for tirelessly pursuing this investigation and developing the evidence that allowed his office to file these additional murder charges.
“The excellent relationship we have with Chief Hayes’ department allows both our agencies to perform at the highest level in protecting the public” Glasgow said.
The Will County State's Attorney's Office reminds the public that charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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