CARLSBAD — The District Attorney’s office has filed additional charges against two of the three men being held in connection with what authorities believe may have been the accidental killing of a fellow gang member in Carlsbad.
Javier Antonio Lopez, 19; Victor Virgilio Lopez, 21; and Jose Angel Barraza, 26; were in a Vista courtroom April 20 for a readiness conference at which time a preliminary hearing date was set, and Javier and Victor Lopez were each arraigned on a single count of conspiracy to commit murder in conjunction with a criminal street gang.
Six overt acts are attached to the aforementioned charge.
Prior to the hearing Victor Lopez had been held on a parole hold following the shooting. Javier Lopez, who is also charged with murder and attempted murder, and Barraza, who is charged with violating his probation by possessing a firearm, were arraigned April 8.
Juan Carlos Balderas’ body was found around 8:30 p.m. April 4 near Pine Park at Chestnut Avenue and Madison Street in Carlsbad. Balderas, 21, died from two shotgun wounds, according the medical examiner’s office.
According to the amended criminal complaint, Javier Lopez, Victor Lopez, Balderas and other members of their Encinitas gang obtained a 28-gauge shotgun and a handgun April 4. They then drove to Carlsbad in a car belonging to Victor Lopez’s mother, the complaint states.
After parking near the Carlsbad Senior Center, at which time Balderas put the car keys in his pocket, the Encinitas gang, including the three aforementioned men, walked through Carlsbad looking to shoot and kill anyone associated with a rival Carlsbad gang in order to avenge the earlier shooting of a cousin of Javier and Victor Lopez, according to the criminal complaint.
Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain said he believed the 18-year-old male, who suffered nonlife threatening injuries after being shot in February outside of a party in the 2300 block of Pio Pico Drive, was Javier and Victor Lopez’s cousin. Despite a graze wound to the head, the victim, who Cain said is associated with the Encinitas gang, made a full recovery.
According to court documents, the Encinitas gang members, including Javier Lopez, Victor Lopez and Balderas, got into an altercation with individuals they believed were associated with the Carlsbad gang in a vacant lot near Pine Avenue Community Park. It was there that Javier Lopez fired twice at people he believed to be Carlsbad gang members, court documents show.
Cain said Balderas may have been shot mistakenly by fellow Encinitas gang members during the clash.
The shotgun believed to be used in the shooting was recovered the following day from Javier Lopez’s home in La Costa where he lives with his parents, the lieutenant said.
Barraza’s involvement in the shooting stems from him having a picture of the murder weapon on his cell phone, Deputy District Attorney Geoff Allard said at the April 8 arraignment hearing.
Because of the ongoing investigation, Allard said he couldn’t comment further on the case.
Despite Barraza being a documented Encinitas gang member, supporters said after his arraignment that he was no longer affiliated with the gang and had been working hard during the last two years to get his life back on track after spending time in prison on a 2005 car theft conviction.
Last July, Javier Lopez was sentenced to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty the previous month to burglarizing a vehicle in North County.
Javier Lopez and Victor Lopez remain in custody on $5 million bail. Barraza, whose has a bail review hearing scheduled for May 8, is in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.
All three men are scheduled to be back in court June 2 for their preliminary hearing.