According to a press release from the office of Cobb Acting District Attorney John Melvin, six individuals associated with the MS-13 gang pleaded guilty to a group assault that began with an altercation in a Franklin Gateway event hall. One of the people charged in the incident remains a fugitive.
According to the statement from the DA’s office:
The charges stem from the night of June 23, 2017, when several people got into a verbal argument at the Marietta Event Hall on Franklin Gateway. Two groups of people then relocated to a shopping center at 2112 South Cobb Drive, in Smyrna. As the altercation escalated at the second location, several people began shouting that they were members of MS-13 and one then pulled out a MAC-10 semiautomatic pistol and began shooting. Three people were injured, but all survived.
Investigation by the Smyrna Police Department, the DA’s office, the anti-gang unit of the Cobb County Police Department, and immigration authorities confirmed that the defendants had association with M-13, but there was no evidence that they were members.
Seven individuals were charged with Violations of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, aggravated assault, and attempted affray. Other charges applied to some of the defendants include firearms possession, threatening witnesses, and trafficking methamphetamine.
“But for the grace of God, someone could have been killed by the violent and senseless actions of these defendants. Criminal street gangs are a plague on this county and in this State,” Acting DA John Melvin said. “I am thankful for the excellent work of the Smyrna Police Department and the C.A.G.E. Unit that allowed this office to hammer these criminal street gang members.”
The sentencing began in January before Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole. One defendant, a 20-year-old, was sentenced under the First Offender Act.
The press release contained the following information about the charges and sentencing for each of the other defendants:
- Julio Cesar Castro, 21, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to gang crimes, aggravated assault and threatening a witness. The investigation found that Castro was a leader of the gang and threatened fellow members and witnesses that he would kill them with a machete if anyone talked to authorities. Castro was sentenced to 20 years with 15 years to serve in custody.
- Walter Alexander Flores, 19, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to one count of Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and was sentenced to 20 years with 10 years to serve in prison, and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution. At the same hearing, Flores also pleaded guilty to committing a gang-related drive-by shooting of another teenager on May 8, 2017, at the Reserve at Windy Hill apartment complex. His sentences in the two cases will run concurrently.
- Cesar Lopez, 19, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to one count of Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and was sentenced to seven years, with one year to serve in prison, and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.
- Gustavo Adolfo Lopez Mendez, 22, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to gang crimes, aggravated assault, attempted affray, possessing a firearm during commission of a felony, and trafficking methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 25 years, with 20 years to serve.
- Josue Hernandez-Perez, 18, of Marietta, pleaded guilty to one count of Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and was sentenced to 15 years, with two years to serve in custody, and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.
Alex Bautista, 19, of Smyrna, remains a fugitive.
The following photos of Bautista were provided by the DA’s office, and authorities request that anyone with information about his whereabouts contact their local police department or call 911.