Charges: Suspect shot Mountain View teen over gang rivalry
A 16-year-old suspect accused of shooting a 15-year-old to death Friday night in Mountain View claimed that a gang-related dispute led to the deadly encounter, according to charging documents.
Luimariamofoa Polu is charged with first-degree murder in the North Bliss Street slaying, according to charging documents released by prosecutors Saturday afternoon after his arraignment in Anchorage Jail Court. Another defendant, 19-year-old Michael Marquez, faces a charge of fourth-degree assault in the case; both Marquez and Polu face an additional count of evidence tampering.
Officers responded at about 6:30 p.m. to reports of the shooting on the 500 block of North Bliss, prosecutors said in a charging document outlining the case. The victim, identified Saturday night as Reynaldo Khotesohvan, died at the scene just hours after a nearby but unrelated shooting claimed the life of 31-year-old Brittany Sparks.
“The witnesses told police that one young man – associated with a group emerging from a house on the 500 block of North Bliss – produced a handgun and shot one of the young Asian men in the opposing group on the street,” prosecutors wrote. “The witnesses did not describe the victim or his companions as being armed in any way.”
As police were at the scene, Marquez approached one of the APD detectives investigating the case and asked to speak with him. He allegedly told police that the shooter’s getaway vehicle, which had been driven by his girlfriend, was at his apartment building in Government Hill.
“At the station, Marquez explained that his friend [Polu] had been at the North Bliss house, on an exterior stairway and landing area, and had verbally confronted a group of ‘Asian kids’ as they walked past the house on the street,” prosecutors wrote. “Marquez described how [Polu] and the victim were the primary people taunting each other.”
Although Marquez said the encounter had escalated to a fistfight before the shooting, prosecutors said, he falsely claimed not to have seen the shooting – and that nobody at the scene had been armed.
A surveillance video from a nearby home, however, showed Marquez personally starting the fight with the passing group.
“The video shows Marquez punching two of the Asian boys,” prosecutors wrote. “At one point, a young man in a red shirt approached from Marquez’ rear, with his arm extended and apparently pointing a handgun with his right hand. It is at this point or shortly thereafter that police believe the fatal shots were fired by this man in the red shirt.”
Soon afterward, the video showed the shooter and Marquez fleeing, with Marquez taking the murder weapon.
Although Marquez insisted he didn’t know anybody in the group, prosecutors said he told them the gun was in his apartment building’s laundry area; officers found a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and some ammunition there. Officers also found the shirt seen in the surveillance video in Marquez’s apartment.
After Polu’s arrest, he agreed to discuss what happened with officers. At police headquarters, prosecutors said, he “in essence admitted his role as the shooter and attributed the shooting to gang conflict.” He cited the ongoing rivalry between the national Crips and Bloods gangs, which has been mentioned in the Palmer murder trial of Erick Almandinger as well as a 2016 Anchorage kidnapping, and has helped fuel a rise in gang-related Anchorage graffiti.
“[Polu] explained that he was a Blood and claimed that he believed the victim – whose name he did not know – was a Crip,” prosecutors wrote, noting the red shirt seen in the video and its link to red Crip gang colors. “[Polu] explained that he had never seen the victim until that day. He claimed that (the) victim disrespected him on the street.”
At that point, Polu allegedly told police, he went back into the home and retrieved the gun used in the shooting.
“[Polu] admitted to shooting the victim several times,” prosecutors wrote. “He also admitted to changing clothes and leaving the red shirt in the Government Hill apartment where police found it early [Saturday] morning.”
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