Teen Shot Dead Over Weekend Had Been Arrested This Fall at MS-13 Hangout

He was released on bail two days before his death


Jose Herrera, an 18-year-old who was shot dead Sunday.

Via Montgomery County police

Updated 5:10 p.m.: Two days after he was released from jail, a Silver Spring teen was shot dead Sunday outside an apartment complex.

Jose Herrera, 18, had been arrested in October at an abandoned house on University Boulevard East that served as an MS-13 hangout, according to court documents. He was released on bail Friday.

On Sunday, Christmas Eve, police responding to a report of gunshots found Herrera dead outside 1010 Quebec Terrace at about 6:30 p.m. He had been shot multiple times.

In October, Herrera was one of several people charged with burglary and trespassing at a house that was set to be demolished to make way for Purple Line construction. ABC7 and NBC4 first reported the October charges on Wednesday.

Officer Rick Goodale, a spokesman for Montgomery County police, confirmed that the man identified as Jose Herrera-Guzman in court documents about the October arrest was the same man found dead Sunday. Police stylized his name differently in the two situations.

Goodale did not provide further details about Herrera’s death, which is being investigated as a homicide. Police searched the area with K-9s that day, but didn’t find anyone and have not arrested anyone.

Goodale said he could not confirm if Herrera was a member of the MS-13 gang or whether the homicide was considered gang-related.

“Nothing’s off the table at this point,” he said Wednesday.

Carissa Cutrell, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wrote in an email that Montgomery County released Herrera, who is from Honduras, despite a federal immigration detainer lodged against him.

“Jose Herrera-Guzman was released from Montgomery County custody on or about Dec. 22, without notification to ICE, even though a detainer was lodged in October,” she wrote in a statement.

According to court documents, police raided a house at 807 University Blvd. East on Oct. 17 after a construction worker—who was cataloguing items that would have to be removed from the house before it was demolished—told officers that he was confronted by two men inside. One of the men who confronted him was wearing a mask and holding what appeared to be a gun, but the two men left the house after hearing what the construction worker was doing there.

When police came to the house later that night, they reported “an overwhelming odor of burning marijuana” and ordered anyone inside to surrender, according to court documents. Four men—including Herrera—fled the house and were apprehended.

Police described the house, which was owned by the Maryland Transit Administration and meant to be unoccupied, as a “Destroyer,” a hangout for members of MS-13, according to charging documents. The house included a built-in bar and a bedroom shrine to Santa Muerte, “the Saint of Death,” with burning candles and a “skeleton idol” hanging from a ceiling fan.

The house at 807 University Blvd. East that police describe as a "Destroyer" home for MS-13. Via Google Maps

Police said in the documents that the inside of the house had been graffitied with multiple identifiers to MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha: “M” for Mara, “Locos” and “Santa Mu3rt3” with the “e”s replaced with “3”s “out of respect for MS-13,” police wrote.

Officers also found a skull Halloween mask, clown masks, empty bottles of beer and bottles filled with urine, according to the charging documents.

The house has since been demolished, according to ABC7.

Two of the people accused of being at the house were also charged with murder in a September 2016 killing. Prosecutors have alleged that the death of 20-year-old Cristopher Alfredo Funes Guerra, who was reportedly stabbed more than 80 times, was tied to MS-13.

Police already were interested in David Lagunes Bolanos and Jesus Ponce Flores, both 18, in connection with the killing of Funes Guerra, who was found dead in the nearby Long Branch-Arliss Neighborhood Park. 

Lagunes Bolanos was one of the four arrested when fleeing from the University Boulevard East house in October. The construction worker identified him as the second man who confronted him and reported that he wasn’t holding a gun.

The day after that arrest, Lagunes Bolanos was charged with first-degree murder for the September killing, but those charges were dropped this month.

He remains in jail without bail on assault charges stemming from the incident at the University Boulevard East house. Prosecutors could restart the murder case against him, but no further charges have been filed, according to court records.

Lagunes Bolanos told police he had been in the house, but denied confronting the construction worker, according to court documents. When arresting him, police reportedly found a 12-to-15-inch machete-style knife concealed in his pant leg.

Jesus Ponce Flores, 18, allegedly confronted a construction worker while holding what appeared to be a gun in October. He is also accused of participating in a September killing. Via MCPD

The day after the police raid on the house, officers chased and arrested Ponce Flores, accusing him of being the masked man who pointed a gun at the ground as he confronted the construction worker.

During the chase, he dropped what was discovered to be a BB gun, which did not match the description of the gun that the construction worker described to police.

Ponce Flores initially denied possessing a gun, according to the charging documents, but he later allegedly told them he was holding a fake gun when confronting the construction worker.

Police charged Ponce Flores with assault and burglary for the incident at the house and charged him with first-degree murder in connection with the Silver Spring killing. He was being held without bail as of Wednesday.

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