Both an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old were shot and killed at Searles Elementary School a year ago, but Alameda County authorities now think they’ve apprehended all the suspects.
It was not your typical school shooting, but unthinkably tragic nonetheless. In November 2019, as the Bay Area News Group tells it, two teens were shot in a Union City elementary school parking lot. When the minivan they were in left the parking lot, at least 36 rifle shots and six handgun shots were fired at the van, which then careened into a tree. Two suspects (one of them a minor) were identified and arrested in February after uploading video to social media wherein they actually bragged about doing it.
“Sean and his friend Kevin were sitting in his mom’s van in the parking lot,” Union City Police Chief Jared Rinetti said after the arrests. “At that time, suspects entered the parking lot, pulled near Sean and Kevin and then opened fire. Gunning down both Sean and Kevin.
Now the News Group follows up that they’ve arrested a third suspect, 20-year-old Carlos Gilberto Zepeda, in the brutal shooting of the two youngsters, Kevin Hernandez and Sean Withington. KPIX adds the shootings are believed to be gang-related to a feud between a subset of the Norteños and another gang who call themselves the Hayward Original Gripp Gettas, or HOGGs.
Per court recordings, cell phone records placed Zepeda in that parking lot at the time, as did those for another suspect Jason Cornejo, and a third suspect whose name has not been released because that person is a minor. The three were identified, according to the Bay Area News Group, through “social-media posts about Cornejo buying an AK-47 and a drum-style, high-capacity magazine, as well as exchanges between him and the co-defendant discussing their involvement in the shooting, and even posts of the juvenile defendant trying to sell a 9mm pistol the day after the shootings.”
Zepeda will be arraigned in January, Cornejo is already in Santa Rita Jail but has pled not guilty. Prosecutors are also moving to try the juvenile suspect as an adult.
Related: Arrest Finally Made In Year-Old Murder of Mission District Teen [SFist]
Image: Kyra S. via Yelp