Release Date/Time:\ 2/16/2022 12:15 PM
Incident: Suspects arrested in Towt St. homicides
Date:\ Sunday, 2/16/2022
Time:\ 10:00 AM
Location: 312 E. Alisal St.
On Saturday, February 5, 2022, at approximately 8:20 pm Salinas Police Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert of shots fired near the intersection of Towt St. and Grandhaven St. On arrival officers located two victims, Jesus Arias Villa (22) and Karina Chavez Vargas (23) both suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Tragically both victims succumbed to their injuries. Salinas Police Detectives responded to the scene and took over the investigation. Initially there was limited suspect information to include two suspects and a light-colored sedan and no investigative leads.
Salinas Police Detectives continued to attempt to track down video surveillance to determine the suspect vehicles direction of travel and potentially locate a video that would provide some investigative leads. Over the next 7 days Detectives collected over 300 GB of data from surveillance cameras in the area that eventually led to them identifying unique characteristics of the vehicle and locating the suspect vehicle, a white Nissan Altima 7 days after the incident. As the investigation continued Detectives were able to identify Gonzalo Echeverria (24) and his cousin, Jose Echeverria (32) as suspects in this homicide investigation.
After further investigation on Monday, February 14th Gonzalo Echeverria who was in custody was arrested for the murder of Jesus Villa and Karina Vargas. On Tuesday, February 15th Salinas Police Detectives and VSTF located Jose Echeverria and he was arrested and lodged in the Monterey County Jail on two counts of murder. Gonzalo Echeverria and Jose Echeverria are both citizens of El Salvador and have been previously deported.
This remains an active investigation as Detectives continue with additional follow-up. There are no outstanding suspects and detectives do not believe there is any additional risk to the community. The investigators have determined that Jesus and Karina were not the intended targets of this senseless act of violence and that it was a case of mistaken identity.
Release Authorized by: Miguel Cabrera