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Half a continent away, cops nab SCV suspects

Pair wanted for attempted murder

Posted: September 23, 2008 8:00 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Kansas City cops nabbed one of two men suspected of attempted murder in the Sept. 6 Canyon Country Jack in The Box stabbing, a sheriff’s official said.

The suspect eluded local authorities and fled to his former Midwest home to lay low but Kansas City Police Department officers captured him during a Tuesday morning gang raid, a Santa Clarita sheriff’s official said.

Johnny Zelaya, 20 of Canyon Country, will be charged with attempted murder for his participation in the Sept. 6 gang-related stabbing in front of the Jack in The Box on the corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Crossglade Avenue in Canyon Country, said Lt. Brenda Cambra of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Zelaya was the second suspect arrested in the investigation, Cambra said.

Savlador Rodriguez, 19 of Canyon Country, surrendered to local authorities in Escalon on Sept. 10. Authorities in Escalon turned him over to Santa Clarita Valley deputies the same day. He is charged with attempted murder.
Both men are accused of stabbing two men outside the Jack in The Box after a confrontation between two rival gangs.

Rodriguez just got off work from the Taco Bell restaurant across the street when he and Zelaya allegedly confronted rival gang members in front of the Jack in The Box, Cambra said. He was wearing his Taco Bell uniform at the time of the incident, she said. The argument turned violent and bloody in minutes before both alleged suspects fled on foot, she said.

Video evidence corroborated with witness testimony and both suspects were identified early in the investigation, Cambra said.

The suspects slipped out of Santa Clarita as deputies closed in, Cambra said. Deputies and family members convinced Rodriguez to turn himself in, Cambra said.

Zelaya proved more elusive, Cambra said. Zelaya resided at various times in Canyon Country and Palmdale. Deputies combed his Palmdale residence looking for clues after Zelaya skipped town, Cambra said. Clues found in the home tipped deputies off to Zelaya’s whereabouts.

“He used to live in Kansas City,” Cambra said. Detectives called the Kansas City Police Department. Zelaya was an active gang member in Kansas City, she said. Zelaya is in Kansas City awaiting extradition, Cambra said.

Rodriguez is being held in Twin Towers Correctional Facility in lieu of $1,150,000 bail. The same bail amount is expected for Zelaya once he is extradited, Cambra said.

Rodriguez and Zelaya are due in Santa Clarita Superior Court on Sept. 30.

The two victims are recovering from their injuries, but are no longer hospitalized, Cambra said.


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