OAKLAND -- Five suspected members of a violent Oakland gang have been charged with murder in the August 2011 fatal shooting of a man they erroneously thought belonged to a rival gang, police said Wednesday.
Police said the victim, Jesus Razo Jr., 20, who was killed Aug. 12, 2011, while driving in a car a short distance from his East Oakland home was not a gang member but had friends who were.
Sgt. Angelica Mendoza, who investigated the case for more than a year said all five "planned out" the shooting and then some of them "went on a hunt" for Razo. The victim, who worked at a carwash, was shot as he drove in his car in the 9800 block of Maddux Drive not far from his home. Mendoza said Razo was followed from a gas station.
The suspects charged with murder and the enhancement clause that the killing was gang-related are: Jose Romero, 20, who has been in custody since April of this year on a gun charge; Gerardo Valencia, 18; Juan Carlos Tafolla-Cardenas, 20; Irwing Daniel Valera, 18; and Christian Casillas, 16, who will be prosecuted as an adult, authorities said.
Valera is from Hayward and the rest are from Oakland. Romero and Tafolla-Cardenas are cousins, police said.
Mendoza, an acknowledged department gang expert, put in hundreds of hours on the case.
"It gives me comfort to be able to give the family some peace and closure before the holidays," she said Wednesday. "We don't give up on these cases."
The names of the five charged came up as possible suspects soon after the killing, police said. Mendoza and other investigators worked to gather evidence against the five, including putting some of them under surveillance. The four who were not in custody were arrested this week in Oakland and Davis.