PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo police have released information about seven people who were arrested during an investigation into a string of drive-by shootings.
Eight arrests were made over the weekend of April 19-20, 2014.
Pueblo police chief Luis Velez said Michael Gonzales, 29; Emillio Hall, 19; and Maximillian Esquibel, 25, were directly tied to gang activity connected to the drive-by shootings. Velez said the three are also responsible for an arson that occurred on April 13 on the 1100 block of Fearnow Ave.
Gonzales faces charges for first-degree arson and felony menacing. Hall was arrested on suspicion of first-degree arson and second-degree burglary. Esquibel was also arrested on suspicion of first-degree arson.
According to arrest papers obtained by The Pueblo Chieftain, Esquibel and Hall poured gas all over the living room floor of the house as Gonzales "stood guard at the door with a gun in case someone tried to run out of the house or towards them into the house." According to witnesses, a suspected gang member lived in the home .
During Wednesday's news conference, Velez listed other people who were arrested during the course of the anti-gang investigation: Samantha Hall, 18; Nadine Candelaria, 26; Antonio Marquez, 22; Joshua Wistoff, 28; and an unidentified juvenille.
"Those folks were in the vicinity of or located with some of the folks that we have highlighted here as being directly involved in the shootings," Velez said.
Velez said all of the "major players" have been arrested with the exception of Ramon Gomez, 27, who is still on the run.
The shootings and arson were a series of gang retaliations, said Velez, between members of two gangs: Latin Aces and Bessemer Spruce Locos.
The summer tends to be when gang activity is at its peak, but Velez said he's hopeful this summer will be different. "For the last two to three years, we have not had that kind of a flare up in gang activity in the city of Pueblo and maybe for the next two to three years we may not have that kind of flare up again," he said. "I'm hoping that's the case.
|CLICK HERE TO VIEW MUG SHOTS OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE ARRESTED|
In addition to the arrests, police say that during the investigation, two search warrants were executed, an AK-47 rifle, two shotguns and a handgun were recovered and 203.4 grams of heroin were confiscated.
Since March 31, there have been seven drive-by shootings in Pueblo. Six of the shootings occurred within a week. Police said one of those shootings is not tied to gang activity.