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Mollie's Pub shooting suspects to stand trial
Incident allegedly connected to 2009 murder
BARSTOW • Three Barstow men will stand trial in the Mollie’s Pub shooting after a judge ruled there was reasonable suspicion following a preliminary hearing Thursday.
Jonathan Vigil, 33, spent his one-year wedding anniversary in court, along with Samuel Weitz, 32, and Jesus Perez, 23 — each facing two counts of attempted murder charges stemming from a September shooting at the local bar that left two men injured.
Barstow detective Leo Griego, recognized as an expert witness, testified that Mollie’s Pub surveillance video from the early morning of Sept. 22 showed Vigil, Weitz and Perez walk into the bar, in one straight line and in that order. Once inside, the three men passed two pool tables and veered to the left, confronting one or more patrons.
Within one minute, the three men were shown rapidly exiting the premises. Griego said video then showed Perez and Vigil peeking inside from around the front door as if to tell Weitz “here he comes.”
A split second before the shooting, a man in a black jersey with “94” on the front can be seen exiting near the front door, then abruptly backing up while Weitz is shown outside grabbing for his waistband and walking off the sidewalk away from the bar, according to Griego.
Griego said after he had arrested Weitz, Weitz admitted he intended to shoot the man in the black jersey — Alexander Gamez, known member of the Los Gents street gang — in retaliation for the 2009 murder of Weitz’s friend, Gilbert Chavez.
Weitz told Griego he believed Gamez had something to do with the murder, Griego said. Gamez’s brother, Rolando, and fellow Gent Claudio Jimenez were sentenced to 50 years to life last month for the intra-gang murder of Chavez.
According to Griego, Weitz had also told him that Vigil and Perez wanted him to shoot Gamez as well.
Weitz, Vigil and Perez were known members of the Street Villains street gang at the time of the incident.
When asked by Vigil’s defense attorney, Ed Congdon, if it was possible the shooting was simply a one-on-one vendetta situation, Griego responded, “No, I don’t think it’s the case at all,” noting the group of three had meant to show that their gang was “to be reckoned with.”
When Congdon asked if that was only speculation, Griego corrected, “not speculation, an opinion based on the evidence I have.” Though, when asked by Perez’s defense attorney, Jon Mahlum, if it was possible Vigil and Perez were only wanting to beat Gamez up, he said yes.
The hearing began somewhat awkwardly for Vigil after Congdon told Judge Roy Stull that he was ready, but not yet fully prepared because he had just been assigned the case Wednesday. After three separate side meetings between Vigil and Congdon, Vigil chose to proceed despite Congdon’s recommendation and Stull’s detailed explanation to Vigil that he had the right to effective representation.
Outside the courtroom, before the hearing, Vigil’s mom, Carol Zenda, showed a letter written by Frances Wood, a 90-year-old former Barstow Municipal Court employee, on Vigil’s behalf.
“Please take into consideration that Jonathan is trying to be a good citizen of his community today,” it read.
Zenda said Vigil was in the midst of turning his life around.
“Mom, I don’t want to be in a gang no more,” she said he told her during one phone call. “I want to be a family man.”
All three men are due back in court on Dec. 17 for arraignment.