Police are searching for a man with known gang ties who they believe was a fourth occupant of the car thought to be involved in a drive-by shooting in Central Point Tuesday that investigators call a gang-related "random act of violence."
The 4 a.m. shooting injured two people with no gang connections and spurred a high-speed chase that ended in a crash that killed Gustavo Santiago, a 17-year-old Central Point resident, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department reported Wednesday.
Jackson County sheriff's deputies originally thought three people were in the Chevy Impala that led Oregon State Police on an eight-mile, high-speed chase after the shooting.
Investigators later concluded 20-year-old Gabriel Perez of Medford ran away from the scene and hitched a ride to Gold Hill after the car crashed.
Santiago was ejected during the accident and pronounced dead at the scene.
Police say Perez was in the car when Miguel A. Carbajal, 19, of Traver, Calif., fired several shots at Gold Hill resident Erik Lee Dorey, 22, and 19-year-old Jennifer Knutson of Central Point, who were in an Isuzu Rodeo near the corner of Beall Lane and Circle Wood Drive just after 4 a.m.
Dorey was shot in the jaw and taken to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. He was listed in serious condition Tuesday, but the hospital would not release his condition Wednesday at the family's request.
Knutson was taken to a local hospital and treated for injuries that were not gunshot-related, investigators said.
Investigators described Dorey and Knutson as "innocent bystanders." The Sheriff's Department reported late Wednesday that neither Dorey nor Knutson have any affiliation with gang members.
However, the suspects in the fleeing car have documented gang connections. Carbajal and passenger Francisco J. Campos, 19, also from Traver, Calif., are linked to a Norteño gang cell in Tulare County, Calif. Initial police reports listed an incorrect age and hometown for Campos.
Perez is a locally known and documented Norteño gang member, and Santiago was a known Norteño associate, police said
The Norteños are a Hispanic gang that formed in California prison system in the late '60s.
As officers responded to the Tuesday morning incident, police said they saw the Chevy run a red light at the corner of Beall Lane and Highway 99 and pursued it west to Old Stage Road, where it crashed near the 8200 block, about a mile and a half south of Interstate 5 near Gold Hill. Carbajal and Campos were taken to a local hospital for treatment. Carbajal was later discharged and booked into the Jackson County Jail. He was held on $2 million bail, according to jail records. He was arraigned in Jackson County Circuit Court Wednesday on charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, first-degree manslaughter, attempting to elude a police vehicle and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Perez has been convicted of numerous crimes since 2008, including burglary, second-degree rape and failing to register as a sex offender, according to court records.
Perez is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. He is Hispanic and has black hair and brown eyes. Both of his ears are pierced and he has a scar on his forehead. Police say Perez has numerous gang-related tattoos, including the word "Norte" on his chest and right forearm, and the letters "ENE" and "XIV" on his left hand. All are symbols of the Norteños gang, police have said. The Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team is assisting in the sheriff's department's investigation.
Anyone who has information as to Perez's whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's department tip line at 541-774-8333.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email email@example.com.