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Motorist’s Tip Leads to 3 Arrests After Shootout Over Poker Game

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Three Canyon Country men suspected of being involved in an incident in which shots were fired into an occupied house where they had been playing poker earlier were arrested after a motorist with a cellular phone tipped off sheriff’s officials.

Gilberto Garcia, 21, and his brother, Ramon, 25, were arrested at their home without incident for allegedly shooting at a rural home in the 16100 block of Sierra Highway at about 7:10 p.m., resulting in a shootout with a man inside, said Lt. Robert Elson of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. A third man who authorities said drove the suspects to the house, Martin Rico Hernandez, 30, also of Canyon Country, was arrested at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday after deputies spotted his bullet-ridden car near Saugus Speedway.

No injuries occurred during the shooting, which took place 10 minutes after the three men got into an argument with their hosts about winnings during a poker game and left the house, said Sgt. Bruce Sonnenblick.

A man inside the house began shooting at the two suspects with a rifle “with the intent to protect his friends and family,” Sonnenblick said. The Garcia brothers fled for Hernandez’s Ford Thunderbird after an exchange of gunfire and the trio drove away.

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A motorist called the sheriff’s station a short time later on his cellular phone asking if deputies were searching for a car with a window shot out, according to sheriff’s officials. The motorist stayed on the phone, providing deputies with directions until they spotted the car near the intersection of Soledad and Bouquet canyon roads.

Deputies stopped the car about half a mile later at Saugus Speedway and arrested Hernandez, the sole occupant of the vehicle. A 9-millimeter handgun believed to have been used in the shooting was found in the car, Sonnenblick said. The Garcia brothers were arrested a short time later.

All three men are in custody on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and shooting at an inhabited dwelling. Hernandez is being held in lieu of $70,000 bail; the Garcia brothers are being held on $250,000 bail each.


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