WHEATON, Md. (WJLA) - Yet another case of unbridled violence at the hands of alleged MS-13 members has made its way into news headlines in Montgomery County.
Around 7 p.m. on June 14, two men were walking in the Wheaton Regional Park, located about two miles northeast of the Westfield Wheaton Mall. As the men approached a public restroom to wash their hands and face, they encountered five Hispanic men staring them down.
The men did their best to ignore the awkward situation, but the five suspects followed them inside of the otherwise empty bathroom. One victim had his hat knocked off his head. The other victim had his North Face backpack taken.
The five suspects separated and interrogated the two men, asking if they were affiliated with a certain gang, what country they were born in and what high school they attended.
The suspects confiscated cell phones from both men, searching for photos and text messages that would allude to gang ties. One suspect used a knife to demand the screen lock password set on one of the phones.
The five suspects took the two men to a pavilion beside the park's main playground area. There the suspects called for reinforcements. Despite repeatedly denying any gang allegiance, the victims continued to be held against their will. It wasn't long before 10 more men arrived at the park, bringing the total number of suspects to 15.
Seeking more privacy, the suspects forcefully led the victims through some 300 yards of wooded land to a secluded lake on the park's property. Police described the walk as, more or less, a death march.
Beside the shore of that small lake, the victims were encircled, patted down, photographed and had their wallets taken. Then for the first time, the pack stated they were part of MS-13. They further explained their belief that one victim's Nike Cortez shoes and red hat suggested he was a member of the rival 18th Street Gang.
Without provocation, all 15 MS-13 members began to punch the two men in the head and chest. Upon falling to the ground, the victims were placed in "chokeholds, kicked and stomped on," court documents state. A few members went so far as to grab hold of large tree limbs, using the heavy, coarse wood to beat the victims' defenseless bodies.
One of the men reportedly grabbed hold of a knife and shouted, "Let's just kill them now!" Other members secured weapons of their own when two park patrons happened upon the ongoing assault. Those witnesses inadvertently spooked all 15 MS-13 members, in turn, making them scurry away.
The two victims ran in the opposite direction, finding help at a nearby dog park. They later told officers they had feared death as the countless blows and kicks were issued with seemingly fatal force. Paramedics transported both men to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda with severe injuries. Their current medical conditions are not known.
So far, Maryland-National Capital Park Police have arrested four individuals, charging each with at least a dozen criminal counts that include attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and kidnapping. However, 11 suspects remain at large. Investigators are calling the felony case "open and fluid" but have refused to disclose any additional details. MNCPP also refused to release mug shots of the adult suspects currently in custody, an uncommon move in the law enforcement community.
Nevertheless, here is what we know about each of the four accused MS-13 members already facing charges in this case.
Jose Alberto Sibrian-Garcia, 25, lives in a rental home along the 4400 block of Randolph Road in Silver Spring. Court documents indicate Sibrian-Garcia was born in El Salvador and resides with his fiancée in an upstairs bedroom. The 25-year-old has worked as a landscaper for the last 18 months, and previously did work as a day laborer. Sources tell ABC7 U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is actively reviewing his immigration paperwork. He is presently in Montgomery County custody.
Albaro Moreno, 20, lives in an apartment along the 13500 block of Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill. He is currently in Montgomery County custody.
Jose Joya-Parada, 16, lives in an apartment along the 13500 block of Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill. He is currently in Montgomery County custody.
Alonso Ernesto Rivera, 16, lives in a home along 2300 block of Glenallan Avenue in Silver Spring (Glenmont). He is currently in Montgomery County custody.
On Monday, Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy spoke before the Montgomery County Council's Public Safety Committee about the continual rise in violent gang activity and crime, most notably with regard to MS-13. According to McCarthy, at any given time, 25 percent of Montgomery County’s jail inmates openly confess allegiance to a gang. McCarthy suggested a change in mentality is needed at the county level to thwart the mounting issue.
"I really don't know if we have a real idea of the full extent to which there is gang crime in the county," McCarthy stated with great candor.
Sibrian-Garcia, Moreno, Joya-Parada and Rivera are each facing more than 300 years in prison for their alleged roles in the mid-evening ambush at Wheaton Regional Park.