By Erich Wagner (File photo)
Alexandria police and federal law enforcement officials announced the indictments last week of three men in the June slaying of a local man in Arlandria.
Jesus Alejandro Chavez and Jose Del Cid, both of Alexandria, and Genaro Sen Garcia are charged with murder in aid of racketeering. Chavez also is charged with use of a firearm in a crime of violence causing death as well as felony possession of a firearm.
The three men are accused of killing Julio Caesar Urrutia-Erazo, 27, who was shot along the 3800 block of Russell Road and later died at a local hospital. The charges come as part of a sweeping federal indictment of Northern Virginia members of the Salvadorian gang MS-13, which includes other homicides in Prince William and Fairfax counties.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Chavez, Del Cid and Garcia were walking in a group of at least six people late on June 19, when they crossed paths with Urrutia-Erazo. The men bragged to Urrutia-Erazo, who was standing on the sidewalk, about their gang affiliation.
Although the men initially walked away, they turned around and confronted the victim a second time, at which point one man tried to punch Urrutia-Erazo, allegedly because he told the group “that he wasn’t in a gang and they should respect him and his friends.”
According to the affidavit, Chavez then pulled out a Glock handgun and shot Urrutia in the face. Three different witnesses identified Chavez as the shooter using photo lineups, the document said, and investigators confirmed Chavez’s presence in the area by analyzing calls from his cell phone and cell tower data.
Alexandria police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said that although investigators identified Chavez, Del Cid and Garcia as suspects during the summer, they could not publicize their findings because of the larger federal case. And the men were no longer a threat to the public, she said.
“We had identified the suspects, but once we realized that it was part of a larger case, we had to wait to announce it,” Nosal said. “The [defendants] in our case had been in custody for quite some time on other charges.”
Although Nosal acknowledged the gang element in the crime, she declined to refer to the shooting as an incident of gang violence.
“The suspects are clearly related to gangs and to violent behavior, but I don’t believe anything points to something other than just the suspects in the crime being gang-related,” she said. “Nothing about the interaction had anything to do with gangs. The suspects are clearly linked to a gang, and it is openly known that the gang is violent, but it doesn’t appear to be any kind of gang-on-gang action.”
All three men, if convicted, could face the death penalty or a maximum sentence of life in prison. In a statement, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, which is prosecuting the case, declined to indicate whether it would seek the death penalty.