Five more suspects -- three teenagers and two adults -- have been charged in the gang-related knife attacks last week at a Colesville area high school and a Target store in a Wheaton shopping center.
A total of 11 men and youths are now under arrest in connection with the attacks Friday at Springbrook High School and Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton. The stabbings left six teenagers wounded in a single day of violence that has drawn new attention to Montgomery County's street gang problem.
Police say MS-13, a violent Latino gang, was the aggressor in both attacks, which stemmed from a conflict between two rival groups. They have not named the second gang.
The three teenagers arrested late Monday in the Wheaton attack were identified as Alexis Rodriquez-Marquez, 15, of the 4500 block of Sellman Road in Beltsville; Jorge A. Arbaiza, 15, of the 700 block of Fairview Avenue in Takoma Park; and George Soto, 16, of the 9000 block of Manchester Road in Silver Spring.
All have been charged as adults with attempted first-degree murder, among other counts.
The two newest suspects charged in the Springbrook incident were identified by police as Santos M. Garcia, 28, of the 600 block of Ray Drive in Silver Spring, and Alfredo Sanchez, also known as Nelson Bernal, of the 13600 block of Lynn Street in Woodbridge. Both are accused of attempted murder, assault and conspiracy to commit murder.
Sanchez, 26, has a lengthy criminal record, with convictions for six offenses, including being an accessory to murder and improper disposal of a human body in 2004.
Sanchez, charging documents state, has several gang tattoos and is a known MS-13 member.
According to the charging documents, police on Friday created a perimeter around Springbrook immediately after the incident and stopped three people matching the description of the attackers in a residential area near the school. Two more suspects were taken into custody at a nearby strip mall, where they attempted to discard a bloody T-shirt inside one of the businesses, the document said.
Police at Springbrook were instructed by dispatchers to look for five or six Hispanic males, police said yesterday. According to dispatchers' descriptions, most were wearing black shirts and jeans and ranged in age from 15 to their early twenties. Some of the younger suspects were said to be wearing blue clothes. One was described as being tall and thin -- older than the rest, wearing a blue shirt, with a medium complexion, dark hair and mustache.
Charging documents say witnesses identified all five initially arrested as participants but said the person who committed the stabbing was not among the group. All five told police they were involved, documents say, but none admitted to the stabbing. Shown pictures of known MS-13 members, one of the suspects identified Sanchez as the person who stabbed the two victims, the documents state.
Sanchez's former girlfriend Sarai, the mother of his 11-month old daughter, told The Washington Post that his real name is Nelson Bernal Martinez. She asked that her last name not be used for fear of retaliation.
Sarai said he joined MS-13 in El Salvador "for protection" and came to the United States illegally when he was 19. He has worked as a carpenter and promised her he would leave the gang, she said. He served 13 months in jail on the accessory charge and was released in February, she said.
"He told me he was never going to get arrested again, and now he goes out and does something stupid anyway," Sarai said. "I'm so disappointed now."
Defendant Jorge Arbaiza, charged Monday in the Wheaton attack, was supposed to enter the ninth grade in the fall. His mother's boyfriend, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted, said Arbaiza hangs out with members of MS-13, but he said he didn't believe that Arbaiza was a member. He said the gang is brazen and pressures young kids to join.
"The youth don't know what's important. They don't know what to do," he said. "The jobs they can get aren't exits to anywhere. They aren't solutions to avoid the Maras."
The world of knives and gangs seems almost incomprehensible to defendant Henry Caballero's family. Caballero, charged last week in the Wheaton attack, is a diligent, affable young man who worked at Whole Foods Grocery on P Street NW in the District, loved to dance and hug and who was planning to get his driver's license and marry his girlfriend, his parents said.
The porch light outside their four-bedroom home in Langley Park was still on at 2 a.m. Saturday when Caballero, 20, called his parents. They said his voice was serene.
"Mama, excuse me, I'm not home because I'm in jail," he said, according to Caballero's mother, Blanca Chavez. "I'm in jail, but I'm innocent. I didn't run away, because I did nothing wrong."
His father, Jose Caballero, who drives a produce truck for a Baltimore company, fled the violence of El Salvador's civil war 23 years ago to come to Washington and raise his family. His son told him he fought with his fists only.
"He defended himself like a man, hand to hand, boxing," said Caballero. "I am his father, and I believe him. He had a knife, but he didn't take it out of his pocket.''
"He's an exemplary son," Chavez said. "He's not capable of putting a knife in another boy's body."
Now family members are afraid they could be the target of gang violence. They pasted blue construction paper over the windows of the front door. A cousin came over to offer to help protect them; a neighbor said he would train his surveillance camera on their yard.
Cabellero's parents don't know all of what their son was involved in outside the house, but they said they were sure of his commitment to the family.
Inside his room are soccer trophies from Roosevelt High School, where he graduated in 2003. There is a crucifix and a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe above his pillow. He kept his pay stubs from Whole Foods in a neat stack, wrapped in a rubber band, in a Tommy Hilfiger box. His father picked it up.
They don't know when he will be home again.
"I love him, not because he helps me a lot. I love him because he's a very, very, very nice person," Jose Caballero said. "I believe in God and the Virgin of Guadalupe that he's going to be out soon. I miss him."
Staff writer Ian Shapira and researcher Magda Jean-Louis also contributed to this report.