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Arlington Slaying May Be Gang-Related

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 14, 2005; Page B05

A 24-year-old Woodbridge man who was fatally shot Monday night while sitting in a parked Corvette in Arlington County may have been the latest victim in the escalating violence between two of Northern Virginia's most competitive gangs, according to court documents.

The victim, Jose Claudio Hernandez Araniva, associated with members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, an Arlington homicide detective wrote in an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Prince William County. Police have identified "multiple" members of South Side Locos, or SSL, "in the immediate vicinity" of the shooting, the detective wrote.

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Shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, Araniva was sitting in his Chevrolet Corvette in the 1700 block of South Edgewood Street when two men dressed in black approached his car, police said. One fired a shotgun, striking Araniva in the neck and shoulder. Araniva drove three to four blocks before he crashed through the picket fence of a home in the 1400 block of South Walter Reed Drive. He was taken to a hospital and died about 10:20 p.m., they said.

Richard E. Trodden, the Arlington commonwealth's attorney, declined to discuss the investigation. However, he said that police and prosecutors are taking the case "very seriously" and that if the killing proves to be gang-related, the case would fit in with the "increasing gang violence we've seen over the past few years," noting that there has been a "history of animosity" between MS-13 and SSL.

If the shooting was gang-related, it would bring to 11 the number of such homicides in Northern Virginia in the past four years.

Arlington police spokesman Matt Martin said that it is unclear whether the victim knew his assailants and that such street violence is "extraordinarily rare" in Arlington.

"The kind of violence where someone is sitting in on the street and someone pulls the trigger is very rare here," Martin said. "But we just have not been able to determine whether those gang affiliations had anything to do with the homicide."

In the search warrant on Araniva's Woodbridge home in the 1700 block of Horner Road, the detective recovered a rifle round, two knives with 12-inch blades, a tape recorder and a hard drive from a computer, among other items.

The detective wrote that he has probable cause to believe that the equipment may contain evidence in "electronic form relating to the suspect's criminal activity" and "relating to the suspect/victim's activities." He also wrote that Araniva associated with members of a gang called Brown Pride.


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