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Witnesses detail deadly Coachella shooting

We’re learning more about the November 11 shooting in Coachella that claimed the life of an 18-year-old man. Details from witnesses at the scene are painting a more clear picture of the events that culminated that night.

On Wednesday, a judge refused to set bail for one of two men charged with murder, while his co-defendant’s arraignment was postponed for medical reasons.

Conrad Joseph Diaz, 31, of Coachella, was arrested earlier this month and previously pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder stemming from the shooting that killed 18-year-old Thermal resident Jose Zaragoza.

A judge ordered Diaz to remain in custody without bail and return to Indio’s Larson Justice Center on Dec. 4 for a felony settlement conference.

Co-defendant Thomas Gonzalez, 19, of Coachella, was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, but he wasn’t taken to court due to medical reasons, according to court records. The hearing was tentatively reset for Monday.

Gonzalez, who was shot in the head during the confrontation, was transported to Desert Regional Medical Center, where he was booked without bail last Friday on a criminal complaint charging him with one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder.

Additionally, both Gonzalez and Diaz face special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and shooting from a vehicle, which make them eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek capital punishment.

The attack happened shortly before 7 p.m. in an alley between Harrison Street and Tripoli Way. Witnesses told a sheriff’s investigator that they were drinking beer and hanging out in the alley when they saw a white Jeep Grand Cherokee slowly coming toward them with its lights off.

The SUV stopped and someone said, “We got you,” according to witnesses, one of whom said someone in the Grand Cherokee pointed a gun at his head but he pushed it away, according to a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant.

The person in the SUV “began to fire several rounds at (the witness) and at his friends. Witnesses stated they saw Zaragoza with a firearm and saw him fire rounds at the Jeep Cherokee as he fell to the ground,” the declaration states.

The people who saw the shooting took Zaragoza to JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio, where he died less than a half-hour later, authorities said.

Gonzalez was found in the SUV with a gunshot would to the head, and there were bullet holes in one of the doors. The driver of the Grand Cherokee, whose name was removed from the declaration, spoke with officers but later disappeared, according to the document.

KESQ News Team


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