Local News

Man Faces Murder Charges in Party Shootout

Posted February 29, 2008 12:31 p.m. EST

— Deputies charged a man with two counts of first-degree murder in a shootout at a party in Sampson County early Sunday.

Detectives believe that Jose Delacruz Santibanez, of 10145 Garland Highway in Clinton, was responsible for the deaths of Sergio Cruz Rojas, 31, and Humberto Sanchez, 36, both of Clinton.

Five men and teenaged boy argued over a card game in the back yard of a trailer at 135 Old U.S. Highway 701, between Garland and Clinton, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said. Around 1 a.m., that fight escalated into a shootout that left Rojas and Sanchez dead.

Jose Santivanez, 24; Estaban Majia, 35, both of Clinton; an unidentified 15-year-old boy and Santibanez suffered gunshot wounds. They were treated at local hospitals.

Santibanez also faces two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury.

He was arrested Thursday and placed in the Sampson County Detention Center without bond.

More arrests will likely be made as the investigation continues, detectives said.

Earlier, Thornton said investigators were confident that no one else was involved in the shooting, except the injured and deceased. Investigators were piecing together who the shooters were.

A shotgun, 9mm handgun and rifle were used to fire dozens of bullets during the shootout, Thornton said.

Susan Williams, who lives a few hundred yards from the site of the shooting, said gunfire is not unusual in the neighborhood.

“It feels awful. It feels terrible that it’s happening right here in the neighborhood,”  Williams said immediately after the shooting.