Search Continues for 2 Suspects in Cathedral City Dollar Tree Shooting

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

CATHEDRAL CITY (CNS) – A search continued for two suspects who allegedly took part in a confrontation in which an 18-year-old Dollar Tree customer was struck by gunfire multiple times and pistol whipped, police said Monday.

A third suspect, 18-year-old Leah Lelani Lopez of San Jacinto, was arrested Sunday night for reasons unrelated to the shooting — but detectives subsequently arrested her on suspicion of attempted murder as well, according to Sgt. Jeffrey Barnett of the Cathedral City Police Department.

Barnett alleged that, at around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, a Cathedral City resident inside the store was confronted by 21-year-old David Anthony William Garcia of Desert Hot Springs, who took out a firearm.

When the victim tried to lunge for the firearm, a fight ensued, according to Barnett. Lopez and 62-year-old Marie Ashee Verest of Cathedral City allegedly assisted Garcia in the fight, Barnett said.

“After fighting over the gun for approximately 2 to 3 (minutes), the suspects and victim reached a stalemate and agreed to stop fighting,” Barnett said in a statement. “The victim attempted to shake the suspect’s hand, but the suspect retrieved the gun out of his pants and attempted to shoot the victim at point blank range.”

Initially, the gun did not work and the two briefly fought over a magazine that fell out of the gun, according to Barnett. During the scuffle, the victim was pistol-whipped in the head and ran out of the store. As he ran out, Garcia followed and allegedly fired several rounds that struck him.

Garcia, Lopez, and Verest were subsequently identified as the suspects in the confrontation and shooting, Barnett said.

Lopez was being held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on a $35,000 bail bond, according to inmate records. Garcia and Verest remain outstanding.

The condition of the victim, whose name was not released, was not immediately known.

Anyone with information on the confrontation and shooting was asked to call CCPD Det. Sgt. Nate Hanley at 760-770-0328 or Coachella Valley Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867(STOP).

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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