Two men accused of murder in the death of a suspected gang member will be arraigned today in San Joaquin County Superior Court. The two men and one other are suspected of killing Danilo Sandoval, 20, of Lodi in March at a Chevron gas station in Thornton.
However, in an unusual legal twist, none of the men charged with murder are accused of firing the fatal shots. The man police believe was the shooter is not being charged with murder.
Three cars, all carrying suspected Norteño and Sureño gang members, stopped at the gas station on Walnut Grove Road just east of Interstate 5 on March 15, according to witnesses and police.
Raul Alvarado, 40, and Raul Rodriguez, 28, both of Lodi, and Anthony Arriaga of Stockton, 22, are suspected by police of being Sureños. Witnesses said they began challenging a group of Norteños, instigating a situation that soon turned deadly, said Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott.
Police believe that Dominique Thomas, a suspected Norteño, fired upon the Soreños, killing Sandoval.
Thomas was arrested on suspicion of assault with a firearm and street terrorism. But he doesn’t face murder charges, because he was reportedly acting in self-defense, Ott said.
Instead, Alvarado, Rodriguez and Arriaga are being charged with
murder for allegedly instigating the situation, Ott said.
The defendants will have further arraignment on May 28.
“Really, at this point, we look forward to helping Mr. Alvarado clear his name,” said attorney Jessica Graves, with the Law Officer of Wing & Parisi, who will represent Alvarado.
San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Arriaga and Rodriguez over the weekend.
Deputies apprehended Arriaga during a traffic stop around 7:40 p.m. Friday, near East Realty Road and Curry Avenue in the Victor area, according to the Sheriff’s office. Arriaga was a passenger in the vehicle.
Rodriguez was arrested on Saturday in the 8400 block of West Stockton Street in Thornton.
Rodriguez, Arriaga and Alvarado are being held in San Joaquin County jail without bail. Thomas, who also had an Antioch warrant for reckless driving and driving without a license, is being held on $340,000 bail.