Prosecutors: 6 suspected gang members charged; hunt underway for one more
COBB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Six alleged gang members have pleaded guilty to a 2017 assault which left three people shot, according to the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office. Officials said they are still searching for one more suspect.
The guilty pleas stem from a June 23, 2017 shooting. Prosecutors said the two groups got into an argument at the Marietta Event Hall on Franklin Gateway which spilled over to a shopping center at 2112 South Cobb Drive, in Smyrna. There, prosecutors said, several people started opening fire, one even using a MAC-10 semiautomatic pistol. Investigators said photos of the firearm as well as photos related to the crime were posted all over social media.
Cobb County Acting District Attorney John Melvin said all six were determined to be associates of the MS-13 gang. Melvin said there was no evidence suggesting the victims were members of a gang.
"But for the grace of God, someone could have been killed by the violent and senseless actions of these defendants. Criminal street gangs are a plague on this county and in this State," Acting DA John Melvin said. "I am thankful for the excellent work of the Smyrna Police Department and the C.A.G.E. Unit that allowed this office to hammer these criminal street gang members."
Seven people were charged with the street gang terrorism and prevention act, aggravated assault, and attempted affray. In addition, various other charges such as firearms possession, threatening witnesses, and trafficking methamphetamine were brought against several of the suspects.
According to the DA’s office, here is what each defendant pleaded to:
- "One defendant, age 20 of Smyrna, was sentenced under the First Offender Act."
- "Julio Cesar Castro, 21, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to gang crimes, aggravated assault and threatening a witness. The investigation found that Castro was a leader of the gang and threatened fellow members and witnesses that he would kill them with a machete if anyone talked to authorities. Castro was sentenced to 20 years with 15 years to serve in custody."
- "Walter Alexander Flores, 19, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to one count of Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and was sentenced to 20 years with 10 years to serve in prison, and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution. At the same hearing, Flores also pleaded guilty to committing a gang-related drive-by shooting of another teenager on May 8, 2017, at the Reserve at Windy Hill apartment complex. His sentences in the two cases will run concurrently."
- "Cesar Lopez, 19, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to one count of Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and was sentenced to seven years, with one year to serve in prison, and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution."
- "Gustavo Adolfo Lopez Mendez, 22, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to gang crimes, aggravated assault, attempted affray, possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony, and trafficking methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 25 years, with 20 years to serve."
- "Josue Hernandez-Perez, 18, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to one count of Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and was sentenced to 15 years, with two years to serve in custody, and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution."
- "Alex Bautista, who is 19 and last lived in the area of Smyrna Powder Springs Road in Smyrna, remains charged in this case but is a fugitive. Photos of Bautista are attached. Authorities ask anyone who has information on his whereabouts to contact their local law enforcement agency or 911."
Officials said finding Bautista is a top priority. He should be considered armed and dangerous. He was last living in the Smyrna area off of Powder Springs Road, but it is not clear if he’s still in the community.
The DA’s office said they wanted to send a strong message gangs were not wanted in Cobb County and will not be tolerated. They tout this as a major victory in the fight against gangs in the community.