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Six enter not guilty pleas in connection with Kent car-show shooting

Nicolas Moreno pleads not guilty Thursday in Kent to three counts of first-degree assault for firing shots that injured people July 23 at a Kent car show. Judge Mary Roberts banned the media from shooting the faces of the six men charged in connection with the shootings.  - CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter
Nicolas Moreno pleads not guilty Thursday in Kent to three counts of first-degree assault for firing shots that injured people July 23 at a Kent car show. Judge Mary Roberts banned the media from shooting the faces of the six men charged in connection with the shootings.
— image credit: CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter

Six alleged gang members each pleaded not guilty Thursday in Kent to charges connected with the July 23 car-show shooting on Kent's West Hill that injured 12 people.

Patrick Anthony Auble, 30, of Tacoma, the only defendant of the six out of custody, told reporters outside of the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center court after his arraignment that he has no gang ties.

"I'm not a gang member," Auble said. "I personally hate 'em."

Kent Police alleged all six men are members of the Playboy Surenos gang. Other gangs present at the lowrider car show included the Varrios Locos and Little Valley Lokates, each considered enemies of the Playboy Surenos gang, according to charging papers.

King County prosecutors charged Auble with rendering criminal assistance for helping to hide a vehicle or gun connected with the shooting at the La Plaza strip mall, 23311 Pacific Highway S. He was arrested Sept. 14 with bail set at $100,000. Auble posted bail the next day and was released.

"The charges against me, it's not what you know it's who you know," Auble said. "I don't know any of these people and I don't care to. They're charging me (and my brother) with stuff they have no clue what they're talking about."

Auble moments later added he might be familiar with other defendants besides his brother.

"That's why I'm in court today," Auble said. "Just because I know some of these guys, not knowing they did it, but just because they're around it (the car-show shooting) comes to a fact you must know information."

Shea C. Auble, 21, of Auburn, and the brother of Patrick Auble, also is charged with rendering criminal assistance for helping to hide a vehicle or gun connected with the shooting.

Shea Auble is the same man who was a victim in an Aug. 31 gang-related fist attack by another inmate at the county jail at the Regional Justice Center. Anthony Archuleta, 20, of Auburn, has been charged with first-degree assault in that case. Prosecutors claim Archuleta belongs to the Rancho San Pedro Pee Wee Sureno gang.

"Look at my brother, his mouth is wired jaw shut because of people from different gangs beating him up because they think he was a snitch," Patrick Auble said. "He was in custody when all of this happened."

Shea Auble reportedly had information about the shooting and had talked by phone to one of the alleged shooters, but refused to cooperate with detectives, according to charging papers.

Besides the Auble brothers, the other four men and the charges against them include:

• Martin T. McSmith, 21, of SeaTac, charged with three counts of first-degree assault with a firearm enhancement for firing shots that injured people at the car show. Bail set at $750,000.

• James Lopez Jr., 17, of Seattle, charged with drive-by shooting for driving a vehicle that carried another gang member who fired shots. Bail set at $250,000. Prosecutors are charging him as an adult.

• Ignacio Vasquez-Trevino, 19, of Federal Way, charged with three counts of first-degree assault with a firearm enhancement for firing shots that injured people at the car show. Bail set at $750,000.

• Nicolas Evan Moreno, 21, of Auburn, charged with three counts of first-degree assault with a firearm enhancement for firing shots that injured people at the car show. Bail set at $750,000.

Kent Police have said that at least five shooters were at the car show and they expect to make more arrests.

Twelve people were injured at the lowrider car show attended by about 250 people. Another person was injured later that night in a retaliatory shooting at a Kent East Hill apartment. Of the 13 victims, seven were gang members, according to Kent Police. None of the injuries were life threatening.

Detectives and crime analysts from 14 local, county, state and federal agencies are part of the shooting investigation. They have interviewed more than 150 people, reviewed hundreds of hours of video and still images and analyzed records from more than 70 cellphones in order to make arrests.

The car show turned violent after members of a rap band at the event encouraged the crowd to show their gang signs, according to Kent Police. Members started to show their signs and that led to verbal arguments, fights and then the shootings.

All six defendants are scheduled to return to court Oct. 12 when trial dates could be set or attorneys from either side could ask for more time to prepare the case.

At Thursday's arraignments, King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts granted requests from defense attorneys to not allow the media to photograph the faces of the men in court.

"It's rare for me to order photographs not be taken of the faces, but for a couple of reasons I will ban their identity," Roberts said.

Roberts explained she had concerns about the safety of a couple of the individuals as well as identity issues about the defendants if she allowed "dissemination" of photos.

James Bible, a Seattle attorney representing McSmith, argued in favor of banning the media from photographing faces of the defendants because of identity issues.

Extra Kent Police and King County Sheriff's Office deputies were stationed outside the Regional Justice Center Thursday because of the high-profile case.

People attending the arraignments had to go through the normal security to enter the courthouse as well as an extra security checkpoint just outside the courtroom. Numerous friends and relatives of the defendants were in the courtroom.

 

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