Valley gang task force uncovers arsenal of weapons in Cathedral City shooting

Officers seize 13 rifles and shotguns, 4 handguns and stockpile of ammunition

POSTED: 02:53 AM PDT Sep 28, 2012    UPDATED: 03:01 AM PDT Sep 28, 2012 
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. -

Nearly 20 guns and ammunition are now off the streets of Cathedral City.

"The task force did exactly what it's put together to do," said Lt. Chuck Robinson, of the Cathedral City Police Department.

Several hours after a shooting in the Dream Homes neighborhood on Wednesday night, police arrested 33-year-old Frederico Garza, of Cathedral City, and his suspected accomplice, 30-year-old Ester Lozano, of Desert Hot Springs.

Officers say Garza approached a 32-year-old acquaintance around 8:00 p.m. on San Gabriel Circle and demanded money. After the man refused, Garza exited the car and then began shooting at the victim as he ran away. Garza and his driver, Lozano, drove off.

Police say the shooting was not gang-related, but called the incident "senseless." No one was hurt.

The Coachella Valley Gang Task Force found the suspect's car in the 30500 block of San Joaquin Drive in Cathedral City. Officers served a search warrant on Thursday, which is what led them to weapons stashed throughout Garza’s home.

"The folks involved in the shooting are recognized gang members in the community. They're armed. They're felons and they have weapons they shouldn't be in possession of," said Robinson.

Police said they found 13 rifles and shotguns, 4 handguns and a stockpile of ammunition, including the handgun used in Wednesday's shooting.

"It's scary because they're your neighbors. You don't know what they carry. It's a relief they caught him," said Jessica Escobar, of Cathedral City.

The suspects both face charges, Garza for attempted murder and Lozano for being an accessory.

Garza will also face multiple charges including possession of firearms.

“These are all serious felonies. We'll hopefully keep this person off the street," said Robinson.

Neighbors like Jessica Escobar hope so too.

"I hope they continue. Hopefully there will be a stop to it," she said.

Robinson says, "The victim is safe, suspects are in custody, weapons are off the street and Cathedral City is a safer place."

During the search of Garza’s home, police arrested his sister 32-year-old Cecilia Garza for an outstanding drug warrant.