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Third Man Arrested in Death of Fellow Va. Gang Member

With Knife, Suspect Blocked Exit During MS-13 Shooting, Complaint Says

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2004; Page B02

A 23-year-old member of Northern Virginia's most violent street gang has been arrested on murder and weapons charges in connection with the slaying of a fellow gang member in Prince William County last month, police said.

Fredy Escobar, a member of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at his Loudoun County home while hiding in a storage room, police said.

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"When police came to search the house, he went and hid there," said Prince William police spokesman Dennis Mangan.

Escobar, an employee of a Loudoun County construction company, is the third MS-13 member arrested in connection with the slaying of Jose Escobar. Fredy and Jose Escobar are not related, police said.

Jose Escobar, 22, of Manassas Park was shot and cut in the throat at a party at a Prince William County townhouse in the Manassas area Aug. 11. Four other gang members came to the party looking for him, then spread throughout the home and sealed off the exits so he could not leave, according to court documents.

The slaying was Northern Virginia's 10th gang-related homicide in the past four years and is being investigated by local authorities and the FBI.

Police said in court papers that Wilfredo Montoya-Baires, a Reston area construction worker, shot Escobar in the chest. Montoya-Baires and Reynaldo Alexander Cordova of Falls Church, who police said helped block the front door, have been arrested and charged with murder. Carlos Avalos, the owner of the townhouse in the 8100 block of Community Drive, has been charged with murder but has not been arrested.

Fredy Escobar arrived at the party, went through the kitchen and headed to the living room, police said. He then "took a position" to guard the townhouse's rear sliding glass doors, according to the criminal complaint based on witness testimony from Raul Escobar, the victim's uncle, who is also a member of MS-13.

Fredy Escobar "had a large knife in his hand as he was doing this," the complaint said.

Raul Escobar saw Montoya-Baires shoot his nephew, then turn the gun toward him, court papers said. Raul Escobar dove into the kitchen floor behind a wall, while Fredy Escobar tried to stop him, the documents said. Three more shots were fired at Raul Escobar, missing him, before he saw "all the suspects run out the back door of the residence," the complaint said.

Police have not yet said why Jose Escobar was targeted that night. Daniel Escobar, the victim's father, said that in recent months, he asked his son why he would not leave MS-13.

"I said, 'Why?' And he didn't answer. He just said he can't. Maybe they have a secret," Escobar said. He added that he met Montoya-Baires once with his son. "I don't believe this guy does this and shot my son. He's supposed to be friends with my son."

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