A 45-year-old man who fatally shot a man more than 20 years ago at an Indio intersection pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter today and was immediately sentenced to 15 years in state prison.
Enoc Calderon of La Quinta also pleaded guilty Monday morning at the Larson Justice Center in Indio to two felony counts of assault with a gun and one felony count each of attempted murder and criminal street gang activity, according to court records. He had two felony counts of attempted murder and one felony count of murder dismissed.
The defendant was immediately sentenced to 15 years in state prison, according to Riverside County District Attorney’s Office public information officer Brooke Beare.
Indio residents Juan Antonio Hernandez, 42, and Frederico Sanchez, 46, who were also suspects, had one felony count each of murder and criminal street gang activity along with three felony counts of attempted murder dismissed in 2020. The men also had sentence-enhancing allegations of committing the crime for the benefit of a street gang and discharging firearms causing great bodily injury and/or death stricken.
The charges stem from the Sept. 22, 2001, deadly shooting of Alfred Dela Garza at the intersection of Highway 111 and Clinton Street in Indio.
According to a trial brief filed by the District Attorney’s Office, Garza was driving a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutglass at 12:46 a.m. that day when he came to a stop behind a vehicle at the intersection near a 7 Eleven, and several men began yelling and throwing up gang signs.
The men began to throw bottles while running up toward his vehicle, then someone ran up to the back of Garza’s vehicle and shot numerous rounds into the car, according to the brief. Garza was shot on the right side of his torso and back, which resulted in his death.
A passenger sitting in the rear of the victim’s vehicle was shot on his lower left leg while passengers in the right front and right rear seats did not sustain any injuries, according to investigators. Witnesses named several suspects in the assault, with one indicating that the shooter had an “Indio” tattoo on the back of his head, which Calderon had.
Officers subsequently recovered 11 9mm shell casings, all of which were fired from the same gun, in the rear of Garza’s car during a canvass of the scene, according to the brief. Video surveillance from the convenience store also showed Calderon reaching into his waistband prior to the shooting.
In May 2011, a witness said he was with a group that included Calderon cruising around before they parked in front of the 7-Eleven, where he heard gunshots fired and later learned that someone was shot by a gang member, according to prosecutors.
The witness said that he ran out of the 7-Eleven, saw others “rushing” Garza’s vehicle then assaulting the passengers before Calderon ran out from the side of the store to the rear of Garza’s car, yelling for people to get out of the way, and then shooting into the car.
In June 2016, Calderon and Sanchez were arrested after the case was reopened by members of the Cold Case Unit, composed of retired law enforcement personnel who volunteer their time to investigate unsolved homicides, according to Indio Police Department Sgt. Daniel Marshall. Hernandez was already in state prison on an unrelated matter.
Witnesses said that Sanchez allegedly threw a beer bottle at the car and then began punching De La Garza while Hernandez was allegedly one of “several” men who ran toward the car displaying gang signs, according to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant.
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