Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials said this week a 15-year-old who shot a 17-year-old in the face remains in a juvenile detention facility after a petition against the suspect was sustained in court, according to officials.
In cases involving L.A. County’s juvenile justice system, a sustained petition is similar to when an adult is found guilty of an allegation.
The petition charged him with the shooting that happened last year outside a Canyon Country apartment complex, which is believed to be part of a battle over local turf between rival gangs that escalated.
Court records obtained by The Signal depict escalating tensions between two rival factions that compete for territory in Santa Clarita as what led to a shooting in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Nadal Street in January 2022.
Detectives with the station’s COBRA team, which stands for Career Offenders Burglary, Robbery, Assault, tracked the now-16-year-old suspect to a Sylmar address where he was taken into custody in February on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Court records obtained by The Signal reveal that detectives identified the shooter as Matthew Gutierrez, a Sylmar Charter High School student.
Prior to the shooting, detectives believe members of one gang were looking for the other due to a series of graffiti cross-outs, in which rival gangs spray-paint over each other’s markings, that led to physical confrontations.
Three alleged gang members went looking for retribution from such an assault and found a rival outside the Monterra Ridge complex, according to court documents.
Finding their target in a silver-colored SUV, one of the three walked up to the vehicle and punched the rival gang member in the face. The gang member responded by brandishing a firearm and shooting his attacker in the face.
A nearby person who was with the group called 911, with SCV Sheriff’s Station deputies administering first aid until the victim, who was coughing up blood after a bullet entered his jaw and lodged itself in his neck-spine area, was transferred to a local hospital. Doctors initially described his condition as being critical, but he survived.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office was not able to provide information regarding the prosecution of the case as of this story’s publication.
Special directive 20-09 from District Attorney George Gascón instructs prosecutors to NOT (emphasis theirs) file any potential strike offense if the offender is 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the offense. The only exception to this policy shall be charges involving forcible rape and murder.