- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2004

Police have arrested a Reston man in connection with a gang-related slaying Wednesday at a party in Manassas, one of several violent incidents recently in Northern Virginia, including a nonfatal shooting, a stabbing, an assault and robberies.

Prince William County police, the FBI and anti-gang units from Fairfax County and other jurisdictions yesterday helped arrest Wilfredo Montoya-Baires, 25, of the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive in Reston.

Mr. Montoya-Baires has been charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with the shooting death of Joe Escobar, 22, of Manassas Park, who was at the party.

Investigators believe the shooting involved members of MS-13 — the largest and most violent gang in Northern Virginia.

Police suspect three other violent incidents in Falls Church also were gang-related. However, they have no evidence that the violence is related to feuding gangs.

“As far as I know, nobody has declared an escalation of gang activity,” said Mary Ann Jennings, Fairfax police spokeswoman. “We’re aware of what has happened over the last week or two, but at this point there doesn’t appear to be any need on our part for escalation of enforcement.”

On Thursday, three Hispanic men wearing bandannas on their heads approached a man in the 6100 block of Greenwood Drive. Police said the men demanded money, then beat the 36-year-old victim and took his cell phone.

An hour later, in 2900 block of Lamella Walk, about three miles away, three Hispanic men wearing bandannas over their faces took money, a cell phone and pizza from a delivery man, who was not harmed. Police suspect the robberies were committed by the same men, each described as about 5-feet-9-inches tall with a medium build.

On Sunday, a 22-year-old man standing outside the Culmore Shopping Center, in the 6100 block of Leesburg Pike, was approached at about 9 p.m. by several Hispanic men who asked whether he was a gang member. The victim was stabbed, then hit over the head with a blunt object.

The victim was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital in serious condition. Police do not believe he was a gang member, and no arrests have been made.

The string of recent attacks began the night of Aug. 8, when a 15-year-old Falls Church boy was shot in the leg in the 2900 block of Monticello Drive. Suspected gang members fired from a red compact car, police said.

The increase in gang violence unofficially started on May 10 when a 16-year-old Alexandria boy’s hands were severely mutilated with a machete by several members of MS-13.

A suspect in that case, Hayner R. Flores, 18, of Annandale, will stand trial Sept. 22 for malicious wounding and participation in gang activity, which are punishable with a maximum 20 year and 10 years, respectively. Two other arrests have been made in the case. Jose Cruz, 19, of Annandale, is expected to plead guilty Sept. 13 to the same charges. Cristobal Medrano, 17, pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on Oct. 15.

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