Shooting case difficult for investigators one year later

Freedom Newspapers

At the edge of Sgt. Dan Aguilar’s desk are two cardboard expanding files stuffed with papers to the point of bursting.

They are the case files for 10-year-old Carlos Perez, who died a year ago Friday while sleeping in his bed. He said he put the files away several times, but then something would come up and he would have to pull them all out again, until one day he just stopped putting them away.

Reflecting on the case, Aguilar solemnly recalled Perez was getting ready to celebrate his 11th birthday the day after he died.

Shot in the head, Perez died in a Lubbock hospital hours after police say four men stood outside his bedroom window and pumped nine rounds of ammunition into the room he shared with his older brother.

Demetrio Salas, 20, Edward Salas, 22, David Griego, 30, and Noe Torres, 27, have all been charged with first-degree murder. They are scheduled to stand trial together in March, according to court records.

Torres has avoided capture and remains at large.

Investigators heard Torres fled to Mexico in the days after the shooting but have heard little since. Occasional sightings of Torres have been checked out but have not led to any developments, Aguilar said.

Orlando Salas, 16, the younger brother of Demetrio and Edward Salas, pleaded guilty May 12 as an accessory to first-degree murder, and was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Children, Youth and Families Department. He will be released on parole at age 21.

Statements he made to investigators in March contributed to a reduction of charges against him and led to the arrest of Griego, prosecutors said.

Police have said the shooting occurred after Orlando Salas had a dispute with Carlos Perez’ older brother Ruben Perez, 15, at school.

Aguilar said the shooting has been one of the most difficult cases, if not the most difficult case, assigned to him in the 17 years he has been with the Clovis Police. What makes it so difficult is the senselessness of it, he said.

“It’s just tragic. (He was) a truly innocent victim, and he was senselessly murdered. I have kids of my own — my youngest is as old as he was,” the father of seven said.