US gang battle between the Latin Kings and the Trinitarios, a Dominican gang
Ateenager charged with firing into a crowd and shooting two people during a gang melee outside Allen High School last year will be tried as an adult and his confession to police that he committed the crime can be used in court, a judge has ruled.


Lehigh County Judge Kelly L. Banach denied Jonathan J. Pereira's request to be tried as a juvenile and his motion to suppress his confession to police.

Pereira, who was 17 when the November 2010 shooting occurred, shouldn't be charged as a juvenile, Banach ruled, because a juvenile facility could only house him until he's 21.

"It is in the public's interest that the defendant remain in the adult system," the judge wrote in an opinion this month.

Pereira, who turned 19 on Dec. 12, was three weeks away from turning 18 when he allegedly shot a man and a 14-year-old Allen student on Nov. 17, 2010, outside the Allentown school during what police called a gang battle between the Latin Kings and the Trinitarios, a Dominican gang.

The fracas took place around dismissal time, 3:30 p.m., in the 1400 block of Linden Street, just two blocks from the high school.

Carlos Perez, 38, who lives near the high school, was struck three times and nearly died. The student, Braiham Graciano, was hit once and a friend helped carry him to a nearby hospital.

Both needed emergency surgery.

Police say Pereira fired two shots into a crowd walking home from the high school two days earlier. The Dominican Republic native who was living with his aunt in Allentown missed, hitting a parked car in the 1300 block of Turner Street, according to court records.

Pereira is charged with attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and other charges.

In March, Pereira asked to be tried as a juvenile. He also said his statement to police — he allegedly admitted to shooting into the crowd seven times but said he didn't mean to harm anyone — shouldn't be used against him because an adult wasn't with him when he made the statement and he wasn't fully aware he waived his rights to remain silent. During the interview, police say he also confessed to shooting into a crowd and missing two days prior.

"The defendant was three weeks away from his 18th birthday at the time of the interrogation," Banach wrote. "He understood the situation, as a thorough review of the interrogation video demonstrates, in that he was responsive and comprehended what was going on when the detectives presented him with the waiver form."

Witnesses to the shooting independently identified Pereira as the shooter and when police arrested him on Nov. 18, they found a large .22-caliber gun in his backpack with two boxes of .22-caliber ammunition matching the type of shell casings found at the shooting scene. Police say Pereira brought the gun —which he had obtained illegally — to school in his backpack and hid the gun in a bush until after school when he retrieved it and used it.

"These are very serious acts and by hiding the gun, the defendant demonstrated some degree of planning or preparation," Banach wrote.

During the melee, police say Luis Manuel Roman, 17, slashed a 16-year-old Allen classmate with a machete. Banach noted more than 50 Allentown police officers responded to the battle and officers were forced to patrol the area for several days following the melee.

Roman, a reputed Latin Kings gang member, is charged as an adult with robbery, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, simple assault, theft, receiving stolen property and possession of an instrument of crime.

Roman and Pereira have been locked up in Lehigh County Prison since their arrests.



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Go back | Date: 28 Dec 2011
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