2 Sought in Slaying Arrested in Houston

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 14, 2008

U.S. marshals in Houston stormed a city bus yesterday and arrested two fugitive gang members wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old honor student aboard a Montgomery County bus this month, authorities said.

"It's kind of poetic justice that they were arrested on a bus," said Alfredo Perez, a deputy marshal who took part in the operation.

Authorities said the suspects, Gilmar L. Romero, 20, and Mario E. Milan-Canales, 30, are affiliated with the MS-13 gang and are illegal immigrants, as was a suspect arrested earlier in the case, Hector M. Hernandez, 20. Romero and Milan-Canales are being held in the Harris County jail in Houston, while Hernandez remains in the Montgomery jail.

The three are charged in connection with the death of Tai Lam, who was shot along with two friends the night of Nov. 1 after a Ride On bus came to a stop in Silver Spring. Lam and his friends have not been linked to any gangs, and it remains unclear what started an exchange of words between the groups.

The hunt for Romero and Milan-Canales goes back to at least Nov. 10, when Montgomery police announced that they had obtained arrest warrants for them. U.S. marshals eventually obtained information that they might be in Houston.

Marshals set up a stake-out in a vehicle north of downtown Houston, Perez said. One marshal, Art Fernandez, said he had photographs of the suspects and was stunned to see them walking by.

"They're together," Fernandez remembers telling his partner, noting that one of them was wearing the same New York Yankees cap he had on in the photo.

The marshals watched the two board a city bus, and followed it, eventually joined by Houston police officers, Perez said. They pulled the bus over and stormed it with guns drawn about 9:30 a.m. The fugitives and the driver were the only people on board.

The marshals and officers arrested the two without incident, Perez said. He added that one of the suspects had an MS-13 tattoo on the back of his head.

Hernandez, who police say shot Lam, has been charged with first-degree murder. The warrant for Romero charges him with first-degree murder and the warrant for Milan-Canales charges him with accessory after the fact for first-degree murder.

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