Police: 3 arrested in connection with west Santa Rosa park gang shooting
Authorities arrested three suspects in Mendocino County Thursday night following a gang-related shooting Wednesday evening in Santa Rosa’s Jacobs Park that wounded four people, including an 11-year-old boy.
The arrested suspects include Michael Beltran, 23, and Lukas Philip Cortina, 19, both of Santa Rosa, and the alleged shooter, a 17-year-old male from Rohnert Park whose name was withheld by authorities because of his age.
Police believe the three suspects to be affiliated with gangs because of the nature of the incident, as well as their past contacts and arrests, said Santa Rosa Police Lt. Ryan Corcoran.
They were arrested in a different vehicle than the one involved in the shooting. Corcoran could not say Friday whether either of the two men were in the initial getaway car, a dark- colored SUV.
“We got the shooter, that’s the big thing,” Corcoran said. “We’re still trying to locate the vehicle and work the case.”
On Wednesday, the gunman was seen exiting the SUV at West Ninth Street. He used a handgun to fire at a 21-year-old Santa Rosa man as he ran back toward the crowded park, where police said several hundred people were gathered. Moments earlier, someone in the SUV had confronted the man as they drove past the park, demanding to know if he “gang banged,” police said. He told them no, police said.
But the confrontation on the edge of the park escalated. The gunman exited from the front passenger seat and shot the 21-year-old man in the torso as he ran away.
Three others in the vicinity of the sidewalk, including the 11-year-old soccer player, a 46-year-old youth coach and 20-year-old man who had arrived to play soccer, were hit in the spray of bullets, which police said included at least 10 rounds.
After the shooting, the gunman got back into the SUV, which sped away from the area, heading south on Link Lane, police said.
Police have not recovered a weapon, Corcoran said. A semi-automatic handgun appears to have been used in the shooting, he said.
Twenty detectives from the Santa Rosa Police Department were assigned to the case. Their interviews with witnesses led to identification of the suspected gunman, who was believed to be traveling to Mendocino County in a different vehicle than the SUV thought to be involved in the shooting, Corcoran said.
Santa Rosa police alerted Mendocino County authorities, who spotted the car heading west on Highway 128 near Boonville, Corcoran said.
Mendocino County deputies stopped the vehicle, a 2012 Lexus RX350, about 7:30 p.m. on Highway 128. As the stop was underway, Beltran refused deputies’ orders and smashed a cellphone in what police described as an attempt to destroy evidence.
The detained trio were taken into custody and transported back to Santa Rosa. The two men were booked into Sonoma County Jail and are each being held on $600,000 bond. Both face multiple felony counts of alleged gang participation and helping the shooting suspect evade police.
The suspected shooter was booked into Sonoma County Juvenile Hall. As a minor — and unless he is later charged as an adult — he is not eligible for bail, Corcoran said.
“We settled on them through the investigation and witness statements,” said Corcoran. “With a gang crime, I would not want to put anyone on the spot for who did or did not put the suspect in jail.”
Beltran completed two years of probation in October from a misdemeanor conviction of an assault on a peace officer in 2015, according to Sonoma County Court records. The charge was pleaded down to probation and a $150 fine. He later served 10 days in jail for a violation.
Cortina has no criminal record as an adult in Sonoma County. It was not yet known if the 17- year-old suspect has past charges on his record, Corcoran said.
All of the shooting victims are expected to survive, police said.
Two of them, the 21-year-old man and 11-year-old boy, who was hit in the pelvic area, remain hospitalized. The two others have been treated and released. The 46-year-old coach was hit in the lower leg as he retrieved equipment from his car. The 20-year-old soccer player was grazed by a bullet along his back as he put on his cleats while seated nearby.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or email@example.com. On Twitter @kfixler.