Gang member charged in 2016 homicide | Pierce County Prosecutor

  • Thu Jun 22nd, 2017 11:15am
  • News

Yesterday Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Juan Jose Gaitan Vasquez, 26, with murder in the first degree for the gang initiation killing of Samuel Cruces Vasquez, 26, in April of last year.

“Violent gangs have violent rituals,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Gang violence in Pierce County is dramatically down, and there is still work to do.”

On April 28, 2016, Tacoma Police patrol officers were dispatched to 7850 S. Trafton Street. Upon arrival, patrol officers located Cruces Vasquez lying in the road. His vehicle was located just to the east. There was a large amount of blood in Cruces Vasquez’s vehicle, and a butterfly type knife was found next to his body. He had been stabbed multiple times and suffered blunt force trauma.

A witness told detectives that a man known as “Sombra” killed Cruces Vasquez as an MS-13 gang initiation. The witness, who was in the victim’s car at the time of the killing, said “Sombra” was seated in the back seat of the car when he grabbed Cruces Vasquez by the hair and began stabbing him in the head and neck area.

Unable to identify “Sombra,” detectives contacted authorities in Southern California to determine if there was anyone who went by the name “Sombra.” He was eventually identified as defendant Gaitan Vasquez.

Along with Gaitan Vasquez, three co-defendants have also been charged.

Bail is set at $3,000,000.

Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.