A Santa Maria man and alleged member of the city's West Park gang made his first court appearance Friday as the suspect in a May shooting death of a Guadalupe rival near Lincoln and Mill streets, but did not enter a plea.
Alfredo Alaniz Jr., 21, appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court via Zoom from jail for an arraignment on a first-degree murder charge in connection to the May 16 shooting, according to Deputy District Attorney Jordan Lockey.
Alaniz received four enhancements, including that he used a firearm to commit a felony, caused great bodily injury with a gun, participated in a criminal street gang and committed the shooting for the benefit of a gang.
The shooting was reported shortly after 2 a.m. near the intersection, where Santa Maria Police located 19-year-old Mario Angel Merino Gonzalez with gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Lt. Terry Flaa.
A 26-year-old man injured in a Saturday shooting near the intersection of Lincoln and Mill streets died Sunday, police reported Tuesday.
Through an investigation that included search warrants at physical locations and social media, interviews with witnesses and family members and reviewing surveillance footage, detectives identified Alaniz as the alleged shooter.
Moments before the shooting, Alaniz, also known as "Lil Pysko," was with three other West Park members when they encountered Gonzalez, who identified himself as a member of Guadalupe's 11th Street gang, according to an arrest warrant declaration filed by Santa Maria Police Officer Ryan Preast on June 30. The other West Park members weren't identified.
Alaniz fled to Las Vegas, where he was tracked and arrested without incident on June 30.
Alaniz is scheduled to reappear for an arraignment at 8:30 a.m. on July 29 in Department 9 of Superior Court in Santa Maria.