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She was given $4.9 million after a fatal OIS involving her son, she then bought guns for a gang

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Christina Lopez (Source: Fresno County Sheriff’s Office)


Joshua Tehee and Thaddeus Miller

The Fresno Bee

Fourteen members of a Calwa gang have been arrested — including a man accused of a July killing — the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

The arrests came after a three-month investigation into numerous allegations of gun and gang crimes, investigators said during a news conference. The arrests included several teenagers, including 13- and 14-year old boys.

As part of the investigation, 18-year-old Richard Aguilar was arrested for the July shooting death of Javier Fernandez, 52, of Malaga. In that case, the suspects left a stolen vehicle burning near Jensen and and Cedar avenues. Tips from Crime Stoppers helped in the arrest, the sheriff’s office said.

Three members of Fernandez’s family attended the news conference, but declined to speak to reporters.

As part of the investigation, deputies issued 14 search warrants at 14 locations and seized 12 firearms. Aguilar was arrested on Norris Drive East near Clinton Avenue and First Street after the SWAT team used tear gas, deputies said.

Fresno settlement

Also among those arrested was 42-year-old Christiana Lopez, who won a settlement against the city of Fresno after her son, 16-year-old Isiah Murrietta-Golding, was killed as he fled from police on April 16, 2017.

The city of Fresno agreed to pay $4.9 million to her in the case that brought scrutiny on Fresno police. Video released in October 2019 was met with outrage as it shows Sgt. Ray Villalvazo firing a single round that struck the back of the head of the fleeing Murrietta-Golding.

Lopez is suspected of buying guns and giving them to teenagers, according to Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

“(Lopez) has continued to take the money she has from her settlement to purchase a home, where she lives, in addition to spending thousands of dollars on guns that she has given to her 14-year-old son,” Smittcamp said. “And I didn’t misspeak — 14-year-old son.”

Conspiracy

Investigators said Lopez, 47-year-old Jesse Aguilar and 40-year-old Juan Venegas conspired to have teenagers commit crimes on behalf of the Calwa gang.

Aguilar was participating from Salinas Valley State Prison, where he’s serving a life sentence for the 2014 gang-related killing of Fernando Zapata in Fresno.

“Especially troublesome, Aguilar was directing teenagers belonging to the gang to commit murders,” Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.

Other arrests with potential sentencing enhancements for crimes related to gangs, according to investigators:

— Christoper Gutierrez, 18 of Fresno faces felony charges of conspiracy to provide firearms to minors.

— Angel Galvez, 19, of Fresno faces a felony domestic violence charge.

— Grasin Williams, 19, of Fresno is accused of felony charges of conspiracy to provide firearms to minors.

— Julian Carrillo, 19, of Sanger was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

— Fady Barhoum, 19 of Clovis faces charges for evading police, assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm.

— Romeo Tobias, 24, of Fresno was arrested on suspicion of felony conspiracy to illegally sell firearms and possession of a firearm.

— Cierra Perez, 22, of Fresno was arrested on suspicion of felony conspiracy to illegally sell firearms and possession of a loaded and concealed firearm.

— Luis Ramirez, 33, of Fresno faces felony violation of probation and being an accessory to a crime.

— Two unnamed teen boys — one 13 and the other 14 — were arrested on suspicion of possessing firearms and conspiracy to commit crimes. Mims said the 14-year-old’s mother is Lopez.

This story was originally published October 8, 2021 2:56 PM.

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