Local News

Dozens of shell casings found in home where couple was killed

Posted January 31, 2013 8:23 p.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2013 5:23 p.m. EST

Jose Samual Flores Mendoza, left, and his wife, Maria Saravia Mendoza, both 34, were fatally shot inside their home on Jan. 5, 2013.

— Crime scene investigators recovered 40 spent shell casings and several bullet fragments from the home of a Wake County couple who was found inside shot to death earlier this month, according to a new search warrant in the case.

The bodies of Jose Samual Flores Mendoza and his wife, Maria Saravia Mendoza, both 34, were found Jan. 5 at their home at 708 Colonial Drive, near Garner, after a neighbor called 911 when she heard loud noises.

A Jan. 5 search warrant released Wednesday indicates that Maria Mendoza was found on the kitchen floor, while her husband was found on the couch.

Throughout the home were shell casings from both a handgun and assault rifle that other court documents say were linked to a Dec. 4 shooting on Meadowbrook Road in Wake County.

Shell casings from both a handgun and assault rifle were found in several rooms throughout the house. Other court documents indicate they were linked to a Dec. 4 shooting on Meadowbrook Road, about a mile away from where the Mendozas lived.

Witnesses also reported seeing a red or maroon minivan fleeing the home immediately after the gunshots, according to the warrant.

Investigators have not offered a motive for the shootings, only saying that they were not random and that the couple did not know their attackers.

But search warrants suggest the Mendozas were unintended targets in a gang war between two rival gangs and that a man who lived in the Mendozas' home before they moved in might have been the actual target.

Isrrael Vasquez, 16, of 165 Montiseno Drive, Raleigh, and his 15-year-old nephew, a juvenile, face numerous charges in connection with the Mendozas' deaths.

Vasquez and the juvenile are known members of one of the gangs, and the girlfriend of a fellow gang member told investigators that one of the two shot a rival gang member during the Dec. 4 Meadowbrook Road altercation, according to warrants.

The girlfriend, Gemby Itzamar Estrada, was arrested Jan. 16, after deputies investigating the Mendozas' deaths found her in possession of an assault rifle.

Investigators, however, have not linked her to the murders.