CARLSBAD — Two men arrested in the fatal shooting of a young man in Carlsbad were arraigned April 8 on charges relating to the crime.
Javier Lopez, 19, is charged with the murder of 21-year-old Juan Carlos Balderas of Encinitas. Twenty-six-year-old Jose Barraza is being held on a probation violation stemming from having a picture of the murder weapon on his cell phone.
Another man, Victor Lopez, was also arrested along with Barraza on April 6. He is being held on a parole hold but has not been charged in the murder case. Police believe the shooting was gang-related and that the four men had gone to Carlsbad to fight a rival gang.
Because of the ongoing investigation, Deputy District Attorney Geoff Allard said he couldn’t comment about the specifics of the case.
Balderas’ body was found around 8:30 p.m. April 4 near Pine Park at Chestnut Avenue and Madison Street.
Supporters of Barraza who attended the brief hearing said he’d been working hard over the last two years to get his life back on track after spending time in prison on a 2005 grand theft auto conviction out of San Diego. Despite being a documented gang member, his friends said he was no longer affiliated with a criminal street gang.
“He’s changed a lot,” said Helen Cuevas, a lifelong friend. “He’s a good man, there’s no reason he should have to go through this.”
Barraza remains in custody on $1 million bail, while Javier Lopez is in custody in lieu $5 million bail.
Preliminary hearings for both men are scheduled for April 22.