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Gunshots Disrupt Funeral; 1 Man Is Arrested

The funeral for a man shot Thanksgiving night was disrupted Tuesday when several people near the grave fired weapons into the air and police arrested one man for possession of a stolen handgun.

Nearly 100 friends and relatives of 25-year-old Mario Martinez Orejel, a Santa Ana man who was killed Thursday night in a traffic dispute, were at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery when the shots were fired, according to Lt. Timm Browne of the Orange Police Department.

People living near the cemetery called police, who chased and then apprehended Manuel Ayala Cortez, 29, of Santa Ana, who was hiding in the back seat of a car parked at the cemetery, Browne said. After police identified Cortez’s handgun as having been stolen in West Covina, they arrested him on suspicion of possessing a stolen firearm and placed him in Orange County Jail.

Some members of the funeral party objected to the police presence at the cemetery, where two other Orejel family members--who were also killed in shootings in the past 18 months--are also buried, Browne said.

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Mario Orejel, a father of four whom Orange police identified as a gang associate, was driving on South Ross Street in Santa Ana last Thursday night when he noticed another car tailgating him, Santa Ana police have said.

When the vehicle passed him, Orejel pursued it to the 900 block of South Ross, police said, where the two cars pulled over and the two drivers got out. When the second driver fled, a passenger in Orejel’s car told police, Orejel pursued him. The second driver then pulled a gun and fired six shots, three of which hit Orejel.

The suspect in the shooting is still at large, police said.


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