Two of four juvenile defendants charged in a deadly shooting July 2 during a birthday celebration at the Cultural Center of India fired guns during a toilet confrontation with a 16-year-old boy who was beaten and killed, a Chesterfield prosecutor said County court hearing on Thursday.
Killed was Joel Gonzalez-Alvarado, a Monacan High School student who, according to his obituary, loved rap music, fashionable clothes, video games and video editing.
Three of the four suspects charged in Gonzalez-Alvarado’s death made their first appearance with their attorneys in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on Thursday. No action was taken on their charges, after Commonwealth Deputy District Attorney Brittany Hinton asked the court to continue the cases as prosecutors were still awaiting the final autopsy report.
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But during a detention hearing for one of the defendants, Hinton provided a brief overview of evidence in her argument for the boy’s incarceration.
The shooting took place around 10:30 p.m. at the Cultural Center of India at 6641 Ironbridge Parkway, which had been leased to a family that night for a quinceañera, a coming-of-age birthday celebration for Latinas. After police responded to a shooting there, officers found the victim on the floor of one of the facility’s restrooms and “he appeared to have three bullet holes in his body,” Hinton told the court.
Hinton said officers spoke to people at the event and secured video partially capturing the events leading up to the shooting.
The video showed Gonzalez-Alvarado fighting another teenage male in the toilet, Hinton said. The footage also showed a second teenaged man, wearing a white shirt and glasses and from a different area of the restroom, holding a pistol. A third young man was also seen holding a pistol, prosecutors said.
“The witness who reported the video said all the men had firearms,” Hinton told the court. “The men who appeared to have the guns in the video hold the guns up seconds before gunshots are heard on the video.”
The teenage male who fought with Gonzalez-Alvarado “actually hit the victim with what appeared to be a firearm,” she added.
With the help of witnesses, officers were able to identify the teenage man who struggled with the victim, along with the other two men in the restroom, Hinton said.
In the restroom, detectives recovered spent shell casings from 9mm and .22-caliber firearms, Hinton said. “They later found a .22 caliber handgun under the mattress [a] co-accused,” she said.
There was some disagreement as to whether the teenager who fought with the victim was armed with a gun. Defense attorney Greg Sheldon, who is representing the 16-year-old boy, said a 14-second video provided by his client’s family did not appear to show him with a gun.
“There’s a fight,” Sheldon said. “The deceased appears to have his arm around his client. “Our proof would be that the deceased is attacking [my client] in the bathroom and a physical altercation ensues. I can’t see he’s holding a real gun.
Chesterfield authorities have not released the names of the teenage suspects because they are all minors. Their identities were listed with initials – BCI, YEB and KAB – on a large screen monitor outside the courtroom.
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Judge Gregory Carr, who presided over all three hearings, gave their names in court, but the Richmond Times-Dispatch was unable to confirm the names and their spelling after the trial. In addition to Sheldon, attorneys Cody Villalon and Charles Phelps are representing the other two teenagers who appeared Thursday.
All three teenagers who appeared in court on Thursday remain in detention pending hearings scheduled for August 11. The fourth teenager charged in the case is due to appear on August 2.
The defendants are between 15 and 17 years old and all face charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in a felony. One of the defendants is also charged with intentional bodily harm.
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