Four teenagers were charged Wednesday as adults in the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy found inside a crashed car in West Valley City earlier this month.
Prosecutors say the victim was lured to a neighborhood and then ambushed without warning.
Bryan Alvarez, 16; Kimberly Alvarez, 17; Anthony Alexander Hernandez, 17; and Xavior Lunt, 16, are each charged in 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony. The four are also all charged with illegal discharge of a firearm, one first-degree felony and four second-degree felonies.
Just after midnight on March 3, the body of 15-year-old Francisco Jesus Cuena was found in a car that had crashed into a brick wall in Caesar Circle (3880 South) near 1400 West.
Several people called 911, including "one caller (who) reported approximately 15 shots fired," and another who said it appeared two cars were involved. Responding officers found "approximately 20 gunshot holes" in the car that Francisco's body was in, according to charging documents. A total of 36 casings were found on the street.
An autopsy determined Francisco was shot three times and grazed by two more bullets.
Based on several residential surveillance cameras that were later viewed by police, it appeared that several teens were waiting for Francisco to arrive and then immediately opened fire as soon as he got there, according to the charges.
"When (Francisco) realized that he was about to be robbed and attempted to leave, (the defendants) unleashed a volley of shots from various handguns which riddled and victim's car and took the victim's life," the charges state.
Detectives located Francisco's phone and found messages on Instagram that indicated someone had reached out to him and made plans to meet him at Caesar Circle.
Investigators later found a witness who "told police that Xavior (Lunt) said he knew (the victim) and said Xavior was the first to shoot," the charges state. "The witness said Xavior showed them a video of a kid 'all shot up' and bleeding inside a car, and the witness recognized the car from the news," the charges allege.
The witness claimed that a woman had arranged the meeting with Francisco with the purpose of robbing him, the charges say.
Another witness told police that he had picked up the defendants after the shooting and that they "told him that they were going to rob (Francisco) but it went wrong," according to the charges. The witness claims that Kimberly Alvarez alone fired 23 times at Francisco's car.
Police used surveillance video to identify one of the suspect vehicles, and then learned officers had recorded multiple incidents involving the vehicle and Bryan Alvarez and Xavior Lunt, according to the charges.
Detectives then spoke with a school resource officer at Taylorsville High School who was familiar with all four defendants and noted they are members of a street gang, the charges state.
On March 8, police stopped the vehicle identified from the shooting and found Anthony Hernandez and his parents inside.
"Anthony told his father that Bryan had been 'beefing' with (Francisco) and wanted to hurt him. Anthony said Bryan had Anthony and his other friends come up with a plan to lure (Francisco) to the area and rob him. Anthony told his father that when (Francisco) arrived and everyone got out of the vehicles, they started shooting," the charges state.
Police then rounded up the other suspects. Prosecutors have requested that all four be held in custody without the possibility of posting bail pending trial.
"Given the callousness with which the crime was committed, the extreme violence manifested by the (defendants) and the fact that the (defendants) shot more than 30 rounds in a neighborhood in the middle of the night, thereby placing others in harm from stray bullets, some of which impacted other vehicles and homes, (they have) demonstrated that (they are) indifferent to human life and safety and are a substantial danger to the community," the charges state.