Albuquerque police have arrested two suspects in the shooting death of an Albuquerque Academy student who was killed at a party last month.
Jesse Parra, 19, and Cruz Medina, 16, each face an open count of murder and other charges in connection with the shooting death of Jada Gonzales, 18, according to court records.
The Albuquerque Police Department announced late Thursday the two teens are in custody.
“This senseless shooting tragically cut short the life of a promising young teen in our community,” Police Chief Harold Medina said in a statement. “I am thankful for our dedicated detectives who worked diligently on this case to bring justice to Jada’s family.”
Gonzales was killed at a house party in the 5200 block of La Bajada NW near Pat Hurley Park early on Dec. 18. Police said she was shot in the torso on her right side by a bullet that was shot from outside the party and traveled through the master bedroom and then an interior wall and also struck the fireplace.
She was carried out of the house and placed in a vehicle before being taken to a nearby fast food restaurant. There, an ambulance was flagged down and drove Gonzales to University of New Mexico Hospital, where she later died.
According to a 20-page arrest warrant affidavit for Parra filed in Metropolitan Court on Thursday, a group of males showed up at the party shortly before midnight on Dec. 17.
Witnesses told police the group was carrying firearms and posing for pictures with the guns, as well as flashing gang signs, before they were asked to leave the party. They left while appearing “reluctant, embarrassed and angry,” according to the affidavit.
“Minutes after the males were kicked out of the party, shots are heard,” an Albuquerque police detective wrote in the affidavit.
Surveillance footage from the neighborhood showed a black Dodge Charger with black rims and loud exhaust arriving at the party shortly before the shooting. The video recorded audio of people arguing before a series of gunshots ring out. Police wrote that muzzle flashes are seen coming from the sidewalk area near where the Charger was parked, according to the court document.
Later in the day, a forensic analyst with police found an Instagram account where the user had posted a picture of a man holding a large firearm and a picture of a bullet hole in a dark-colored vehicle, according to the affidavit. The man appeared to be one of the people who left the party.
At about 4 a.m. that day, the user posted a picture of an Albuquerque police officer driving in a marked vehicle.
Police identified that officer and determined he was on a call related to two other shootings that happened in the hours after Gonzales’ homicide. At one of those shootings, at Desert Springs and Arenal SW, officers saw three males. Two of them ran away and escaped and Parra was detained.
Parra was linked to all of three of the shootings because casings found in his vehicle — a black Dodge Charger with dark rims — matched the one seen on surveillance video at the Gonzales homicide.
Police executed a search warrant on Parra’s Instagram and reviewed his phone records, which showed he arrived in the area of the house party not long before the shooting. It also shows that he left the area shortly after.
The police review also showed Parra had communicated with at least one other person who was kicked out of the party, Cruz Medina. Medina was already on Albuquerque police’s radar because his social media posts often depicted guns and crimes, according to the affidavit.
The search also showed that Parra posted videos from inside the party where Gonzales was killed. In one recording he is seen smoking and holding a gun with a large magazine tucked in his waistband. He also later posted on Instagram about his car being ruined. His car was shot in one of the shootings that happened after Gonzales’ homicide, according to police.
Medina was arrested on Jan. 10 in an unrelated case and agreed to speak with police investigators.
During his interview, Medina talked about getting kicked out of a party near Pat Hurley Park right before a shooting took place.
He admitted to having his gun at the party and that shots rang out as he was leaving. He said he tried to fire his weapon but said it jammed, according to the affidavit.